Goodbye My Friends and Goodbye My Career: Evidence from the Movie Industry (with Xinlong Li)



By analyzing a dataset with over 180,000 actors, directors and producers in the motion picture industry over a span of 20 years, this research provides causal evidence that network connections can significantly influence an actor's career development. Specifically, we focus on quantifying the impact of losing a connection with a director/producer due to their death on an actor's career trajectory. Our identification strategy leverages the insight that the timing of one's death is exogenous to the network evolution, and hence it creates an exogenous shock to the network.  Following the passing of a director/producer, our study reveals a decline of 6.76% in acting opportunities for actors who had previously collaborated with them. Our findings further reveal that more experienced actors are less impacted by the connection loss resulting from the passing of colleagues.  Moreover, we find evidence that the adverse effect intensifies with time.  Our results also show that the impact of such a connection loss on an actor's career hinges on the initial strength of the shock to their network centrality.