Department of Economics
Cambridge, MA 02138
NBER Program Affiliations:
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
Information about this author at RePEc
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|February 2018||Ancient Origins of the Global Variation in Economic Preferences|
with Anke Becker, Armin Falk: w24291
Variation in economic preferences is systematically related to both individual and aggregate economic outcomes, yet little is known about the origins of the worldwide preference variation. This paper uses globally representative data on risk aversion, time preference, altruism, positive reciprocity, negative reciprocity, and trust to uncover that contemporary preference heterogeneity has its roots in the structure of the temporally distant migration patterns of our very early ancestors: In dyadic regressions, differences in preferences between populations are significantly increasing in the length of time elapsed since the ancestors of the respective groups broke apart from each other. To document this pattern, we link genetic and linguistic distance measures to population-level preference...
|January 2018||Moral Values and Voting|
This paper studies the supply of and demand for moral values in recent U.S. presidential elections. Using a combination of large-scale questionnaire data and text analyses, I find support for the hypothesis that both voters and politicians exhibit heterogeneity in their emphasis on “universal” relative to “communal” moral values, and that politicians’ vote shares partly reflect the extent to which their moral appeal matches the values of the electorate, in particular in 2016. Over the last decade, Americans’ values have become increasingly communal – especially in rural areas – which generated increased moral polarization and changes in voting patterns across space.
|October 2017||Global Evidence on Economic Preferences|
with Armin Falk, Anke Becker, Thomas Dohmen, David B. Huffman, Uwe Sunde: w23943
This paper studies the global variation in economic preferences. For this purpose, we present the Global Preference Survey (GPS), an experimentally validated survey dataset of time preference, risk preference, positive and negative reciprocity, altruism, and trust from 80,000 individuals in 76 countries. The data reveal substantial heterogeneity in preferences across countries, but even larger within-country heterogeneity. Across individuals, preferences vary with age, gender, and cognitive ability, yet these relationships appear partly country specific. At the country level, the data reveal correlations between preferences and bio-geographic and cultural variables such as agricultural suitability, language structure, and religion. Variation in preferences is also correlated with economic ...
|June 2017||Kinship, Cooperation, and the Evolution of Moral Systems|
Across the social sciences, a key question is how societies manage to enforce cooperative behavior in social dilemmas such as public goods provision or bilateral trade. According to an influential body of theories in psychology, anthropology, and evolutionary biology, the answer is that humans have evolved moral systems: packages of functional psychological and biological mechanisms that regulate economic behavior, including a belief in moralizing gods; moral values; negative reciprocity; and emotions of shame, guilt, and disgust. Based on a stylized model, this paper empirically studies the structure and evolution of these moral traits as a function of historical heterogeneity in extended kinship relationships. The evidence shows that societies with a historically tightly-knit kinship str...