Using Facebook Data to Expand Multidimensional Measures of Distance between Countries

Carolina Vieira , Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Filipe Ribeiro, Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto
Pedro Vaz de Melo, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Fabricio Benevenuto, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Emilio Zagheni, Max Planck Institute for demographic Research

The gravity law is the inspiration behind one of the most important frameworks used to predict population movement nowadays. One of the most important elements that characterizes the gravity models applied to migration is the distance measure that represents the attraction between regions. The distance considered by this model is not limited to the geographic distance, and can also include administrative and political distance, economic distance, and cultural distance. By using Facebook data, we introduce a methodology to infer cultural elements that immigrants take off to other countries during the migration process in order to measure the distance between countries in terms of its population preferences on its foreign elements. Many cultural aspects characterize regions in terms of cultural attributes, such as clothing, music, art, and food. As an example of application, we focus on cultural elements related to the Brazilian cosine, once the cuisine of a country can effectively reflect one of the dominant aspects of its culture. In this study, we measure the global spread of Brazilian food culture across countries by exploring Facebook user's preferences for typical Brazilian dishes using Facebook data from the Facebook Advertising Platform. The results show a high correlation between the proportion of Brazilian immigrants in each country and the distance between these countries to Brazil in terms of the cultural distance proposed. Because of this, this measure of distance can complement other metrics of distance applied to gravity-type models, for example, in order to explain the flows of people between countries.

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 Presented in Session 78. Flash Session Migration and Migrants