NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Benjamin Enke

Department of Economics
Harvard University
Littauer M008
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel: 617/496-5895

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NBER Program Affiliations: POL
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow

NBER Working Papers and Publications

February 2018Ancient 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 2018Moral Values and Voting: Trump and Beyond
w24268
This paper studies the supply of and demand for moral values in recent U.S. presidential elections. The hypothesis is that people exhibit heterogeneity in their adherence to “individualizing” relative to “communal” moral values and that politicians' vote shares reflect the interaction of their relative moral appeal and the values of the electorate. To investigate the supply of morality, a text analysis of campaign documents classifies all candidates for the presidency since 2008 along the moral individualism vs. communalism dimension. On the demand-side, the analysis exploits two separate survey datasets to link the structure of voters' moral values to election outcomes, both across individuals within counties and across counties within states or commuting zones. The results document that...
October 2017Global 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 2017Kinship Systems, Cooperation and the Evolution of Culture
w23499
Cultural psychologists and anthropologists argue that societies have developed heterogeneous systems of social organization to cope with social dilemmas, and that an entire bundle of psychological and biological characteristics has coevolved to enforce cooperation within these different regimes. This paper develops a measure of the tightness of historical kinship structures to provide empirical evidence for this large body of theories. In the data, societies with loose ancestral kinship ties cooperate and trust broadly, which appears to be sustained through a belief in moralizing gods, universal moral values, internalized guilt, altruistic punishment, and large-scale institutions. Societies with a historically tightly knit kinship structure, on the other hand, exhibit strong in-group favor...
 
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