Media Persuasion and Consumption: Evidence from the Dave Ramsey Show

115 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2022

See all articles by Felix Chopra

Felix Chopra

University of Copenhagen; CEBI

Date Written: December 23, 2021


Can entertaining mass media programs influence individual consumption and savings decisions? I study this question by examining the impact of the Dave Ramsey Show, an iconic US radio talk show which encourages people to spend less and save more. To that end, I combine household-level expenditure records from a large scanner panel with fine-grained information about the geographic coverage of the radio show over time. Exploiting the quasi-natural experiment created by the staggered expansion of the radio show from 2004 to 2019, I find that exposure to the radio show decreases monthly household expenditures. This effect is driven by households with initially high expenditures relative to their income. In a mechanism experiment, I document that listening to the radio show has a persistent effect on people's attitudes towards consumption and debt. This suggests that attitudinal changes are a key mechanism driving behavioral change. My findings highlight the potential of entertaining mass media programs for interventions aimed at changing people's financial decisions.

Keywords: Consumption, Debt, Entertainment, Edutainment, Household Finance, Mass Media, Persuasion, Radio, Savings

JEL Classification: D14, D91, G51, L82, Z13

Suggested Citation

Chopra, Felix, Media Persuasion and Consumption: Evidence from the Dave Ramsey Show (December 23, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Felix Chopra (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5, Bygn 26
Copenhagen, 1353

CEBI ( email )


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