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Preferences as Human Capital: Rational Choice Theories of Endogenous Preferences and Socioeconomic Changes

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  • Maria Saez-Marti

    ()
    (IEW University of Zurich)

  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

    (University of Zurich and CEPR)

Abstract

We discuss the theoretical and empirical foundations of modern economic theories of cultural transmission. The importance of cultural factors in shaping economic and social transformations has been the focus of a long-standing debate in social sciences since the XIXth Century. Neoclassical economics has remained at the marging of this debate. However, there has been a recent surge of interest among economists for cultural factors. The economic models of cultural transmission borrow the main ideas from the anthropological literature, but endogeneize the efforts parents exert to transmit specific cultural variants or preference parameters. We distinguish between paternalistic models where parents use their own values to evaluate their children’s utility, and non-paternalistic or utilitarian models in which parents choose their children’s preferences to maximize the children’s well-being. We discuss recent examples, focusing in particular on corruption, patience, and work ethic.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Finnish Economic Association in its journal Finnish Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 21 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (Autumn)
Pages: 81-94

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Handle: RePEc:fep:journl:v:21:y:2008:i:2:p:81-94

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  1. Maria Sáez-Martí & Yves Zenou, 2007. "Cultural transmission and discrimination," IEW - Working Papers 348, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich, revised Apr 2012.
  2. Paola Giuliano, 2007. "Living Arrangements in Western Europe: Does Cultural Origin Matter?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(5), pages 927-952, 09.
  3. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2006. "From Farmers to Merchants, Voluntary Conversions and Diaspora: A Human Capital Interpretation of Jewish History," CEPR Discussion Papers 6006, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
  6. Becker, Sascha O. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2007. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," Discussion Papers in Economics 1366, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  7. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1997. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," DELTA Working Papers 97-03, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  8. Maria Saez-Marti & Anna Sjögren, 2007. "Peers and Culture," IEW - Working Papers 349, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. James J. Heckman, 2000. "Policies to Foster Human Capital," JCPR Working Papers 154, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  10. John M. Barron & Mark C. Berger & Dan A. Black, 2006. "Selective Counteroffers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 385-410, July.
  11. Hauk, Esther & Saez-Marti, Maria, 2002. "On the Cultural Transmission of Corruption," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 311-335, December.
  12. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  13. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli, 2005. "Fertility: The Role of Culture and Family Experience," NBER Working Papers 11569, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2007. "Occupational Choice and the Spirit of Capitalism," NBER Working Papers 12917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-58, August.
  16. Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2004. "Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions, or Minorities?," IZA Discussion Papers 1224, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2005. "Social Class and the Spirit of Capitalism," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 516-524, 04/05.
  18. Nicholas, Tom, 1999. "Clogs to Clogs in Three Generations? Explaining Entrepreneurial Performance in Britain Since 1850," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(03), pages 688-713, September.
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