This paper investigates the extent of vengeful feelings and their determinants using data on more than 89,000 individuals from 53 countries. Country characteristics (such as per-capita income, average education of the country, presence of an armed conflict, the extent of the rule-of-law, uninterrupted democracy, individualism) as well as personal attributes of the individuals influence vengeful feelings. The magnitude of vengeful feelings is greater for people in low-income countries, in countries with low levels of education, low levels of the rule-of-law, in collectivist countries and in countries that experienced an armed conflict in recent history. Females, older people, working people, people who live in high-crime areas of their country and people who are at the bottom 50% of their country's income distribution are more vengeful. The intensity of vengeful feelings dies off gradually over time. The findings suggest that vengeful feelings of people are subdued as a country develops economically and becomes more stable politically and socially and that both country characteristics and personal attributes are important determinants of vengeance. Poor people who live in higher-income societies that are ethno-linguistically homogeneous are as vengeful as rich people who live in low-income societies that are ethno-linguistically fragmented. These results reinforce the idea that some puzzles about individual choice can best be explained by considering the interplay of personal and cultural factors.
Published: “Vengeance. ” The Review of Economics and Statistics, July 2013. Vol 95:3; pp. 969-82.
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