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The interplay of migration and cultural similarity between countries: Evidence from Facebook data on food and drink interests

Carolina Vieira, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR)
Sophie Lohmann, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR)
Emilio Zagheni, Max Planck Institute for demographic Research

Culture can be expressed as a set of values shared by a group of people and maintained across generations. In this paper, we focus on food as a marker of culture to characterize countries and the cultural similarities they share with each other. We measure the global spread of cuisines by leveraging Facebook users' interests in popular dishes obtained from the Facebook Advertising Platform (Facebook Ads). We use the interest in dishes in order to measure the similarity between countries by exploring both uni- and bidirectional measures. For validation purposes, we compare our estimates with data from the World Value Survey, which provides related measures of cultural similarity. We also assess the role of migration in shaping cultural proximity across countries. In a majority of countries, larger immigrant populations are associated with more similar food preferences between their countries of origin and their destination countries. Our results suggest that immigrants help bring the culture of their home countries to new countries. However, there is considerable diversity in how strong this effect is across countries.

Keywords: Culture, ethnicity, race, religion and language, Social network methods, Big data / Social media, International migration

See paper.

  Presented in Session 193. Us vs Them: Cultural Assimilation and Anxieties in the Modern World