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The Caloric Costs of Culture: Evidence from Indian Migrants

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  • David Atkin

Abstract

Anthropologists have documented substantial and persistent differences in food preferences across social groups. My paper asks whether such food cultures can constrain caloric intake? I first document that interstate migrants within India consume fewer calories per rupee of food expenditure compared to their neighbors. Second, I show that migrants bring their origin-state food preferences with them. Third, I link these findings by showing that the gap in caloric intake between locals and migrants depends on the suitability and intensity of the migrants' origin-state preferences. The most affected migrants would consume seven percent more calories if they possessed their neighbors' preferences. (JEL D12, I12, O15, R23, Z12, Z13)

Suggested Citation

  • David Atkin, 2016. "The Caloric Costs of Culture: Evidence from Indian Migrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(4), pages 1144-1181, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:106:y:2016:i:4:p:1144-81
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20140297
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2009. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 146-177, January.
    2. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2006. "Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 23-48, Spring.
    3. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2004. "The Role of Social Capital in Financial Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 526-556, June.
    4. David Atkin, 2013. "Trade, Tastes, and Nutrition in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1629-1663, August.
    5. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet, 2011. "Human Capital Development before Age Five," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 15, pages 1315-1486, Elsevier.
    6. De Groote, Hugo & Kimenju, Simon Chege, 2008. "Comparing consumer preferences for color and nutritional quality in maize: Application of a semi-double-bound logistic model on urban consumers in Kenya," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 362-370, August.
    7. Bart J. Bronnenberg & Jean-Pierre H. Dube & Matthew Gentzkow, 2012. "The Evolution of Brand Preferences: Evidence from Consumer Migration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2472-2508, October.
    8. Subramanian, Shankar & Deaton, Angus, 1996. "The Demand for Food and Calories," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 133-162, February.
    9. 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, September.
    10. S. Narayan, 2009. "India," Chapters, in: Peter Draper & Philip Alves & Razeen Sally (ed.), The Political Economy of Trade Reform in Emerging Markets, chapter 7, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2004. "Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1249-1299.
    12. Paarlberg, Robert, 2010. "Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195389593.
    13. Pool, Robert, 1987. "Hot and cold as an explanatory model: The example of Bharuch district in Gujarat, India," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 389-399, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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