The Economic Origins of the Evil Eye Belief
AbstractThe evil eye belief is a widespread superstition according to which envious people can cause harm by a mere glance at coveted objects or their owners. This paper argues that such belief originated and persisted as a useful heuristic under conditions in which destructive envy represents a real threat and envy-avoidance behavior, e ffectively prescribed by the evil eye belief, is a proper response to this threat. Historically, increasing wealth di fferentiation raised the risk of envy-induced destructive behavior leading to the emergence and spread of the evil eye belief. Evidence from small-scale preindustrial societies shows that there is indeed a robust positive association between the incidence of the belief and measures of wealth inequality, controlling for continental fixed eff ects and potential confounding factors such as patterns of spatial and cross-cultural diffusion and various dimensions of early economic development. Furthermore, the evil eye belief is more likely to be present in agro-pastoral societies that tend to sustain higher levels of inequality and where vulnerable material wealth plays a dominant role in the subsistence economy.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by American University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2013-14.
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.american.edu/cas/economics/
Evil eye belief; Envy; Inequality; Culture; Superstition;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
- D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances
- N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
- O10 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
- Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
- Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-08-23 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2013-08-23 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EVO-2013-08-23 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-HPE-2013-08-23 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Conley, T. G., 1999. "GMM estimation with cross sectional dependence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-45, September.
- Nicola Gennaioli & Ilia Rainer, 2007. "The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 185-234, September.
- Mui, Vai-Lam, 1995.
"The economics of envy,"
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization,
Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 311-336, May.
- Ruben Durante, 2010.
"Risk, Cooperation and the Economic origins of social Trust: an empirical Investigation,"
Sciences Po publications
info:hdl:2441/eu4vqp9ompq, Sciences Po.
- Durante, Ruben, 2009. "Risk, Cooperation and the Economic Origins of Social Trust: an Empirical Investigation," MPRA Paper 25887, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011.
"Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2003-41, August.
- Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," NBER Working Papers 17037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2010. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," Center for Development Economics 2010-07, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised May 2011.
- Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2010. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," Department of Economics Working Papers 2010-01, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Jul 2010.
- Anselin, Luc & Hudak, Sheri, 1992. "Spatial econometrics in practice : A review of software options," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 509-536, September.
- Fenske, James, 2009.
"Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions?,"
74, Yale University, Department of Economics.
- Alesina, Alberto & Giuliano, Paola & Nunn, Nathan, 2011.
"On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough,"
IZA Discussion Papers
5735, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano & Nathan Nunn, 2013. "On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(2), pages 469-530.
- Alberto F. Alesina & Paola Giuliano & Nathan Nunn, 2011. "On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough," NBER Working Papers 17098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Paola Giuliano, 2012. "On The Origins Of Gender Roles: Women And The Plough," 2012 Meeting Papers 1186, Society for Economic Dynamics.
- Alesina, Alberto F & Giuliano, Paola & Nunn, Nathan, 2011. "On the origins of gender roles: women and the plough," CEPR Discussion Papers 8418, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Stelios Michalopoulos & Alireza Naghavi & Giovanni Prarolo, 2012.
"Trade and Geography in the Origins and Spread of Islam,"
2012-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
- Stelios Michalopoulos & Alireza Naghavi & Giovanni Prarolo, 2012. "Trade and Geography in the Origins and Spread of Islam," NBER Working Papers 18438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
- Gershman, Boris, 2010.
"The two sides of envy,"
25422, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Matthew Baker, 2008. "A structural model of the transition to agriculture," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 257-292, December.
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Boris Gershman, 2012.
"The Two Sides of Envy,"
2012-19, American University, Department of Economics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Meal).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.