IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Are individualistic societies less equal? Evidence from the parasite stress theory of values

Listed author(s):
  • Nikolaev, Boris
  • Boudreaux, Christopher
  • Salahodjaev, Rauf

It is widely believed that individualistic societies, which emphasize personal freedom, award social status for accomplishment, and favor minimal government intervention, are more prone to higher levels of income inequality compared to more collectivist societies, which value conformity, loyalty, and tradition and favor more interventionist policies. The results in this paper, however, challenge this conventional view. Drawing on a rich literature in biology and evolutionary psychology, we test the provocative Parasite Stress Theory of Values, which suggests a possible link between the historical prevalence of infectious diseases, the cultural dimension of individualism–collectivism and differences in income inequality across countries. Specifically, in a two-stage least squares analysis, we use the historical prevalence of infectious diseases as an instrument for individualistic values, which, in the next stage, predict the level of income inequality, measured by the net GINI coefficient from the Standardized World Income Inequality Database (SWIID). Our findings suggest that societies with more individualistic values have significantly lower net income inequality. The results are robust even after controlling for a number of confounding factors such as economic development, legal origins, religion, human capital, other cultural values, economic institutions, and geographical controls.

If 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.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016726811730094X
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 138 (2017)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 30-49

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:138:y:2017:i:c:p:30-49
DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.04.001
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as
in new window


  1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
  2. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-279, April.
  3. Piketty, Thomas, 1999. "The information-aggregation approach to political institutions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 791-800, April.
  4. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
  5. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Preferences for redistribution in the land of opportunities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 897-931, June.
  6. Thibaut Dort & Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Khalid Sekkat, 2014. "Does Investment Spur Growth Everywhere? Not Where Institutions Are Weak," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 482-505, November.
  7. Engerman,Stanley L. & Sokoloff,Kenneth L., 2012. "Economic Development in the Americas since 1500," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521251372, September.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  9. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Gerard Roland, 2011. "Which Dimensions of Culture Matter for Long-Run Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 492-498, May.
  10. Ross Levine, 2005. "Law, Endowments and Property Rights," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 61-88, Summer.
  11. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," CID Working Papers 01A, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  12. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 2000. "Investor protection and corporate governance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1-2), pages 3-27.
  13. van Hoorn, André, 2014. "Individualism and the cultural roots of management practices," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 53-68.
  14. Baumol, William J., 1996. "Entrepreneurship: Productive, unproductive, and destructive," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 3-22, January.
  15. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-591, September.
  16. Era Dabla-Norris & Kalpana Kochhar & Nujin Suphaphiphat & Frantisek Ricka & Evridiki Tsounta, 2015. "Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality; A Global Perspective," IMF Staff Discussion Notes 15/13, International Monetary Fund.
  17. Kyriacou, Andreas P., 2016. "Individualism–collectivism, governance and economic development," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 91-104.
  18. Easterly, William, 2007. "Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 755-776, November.
  19. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2005. "Fairness and Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 960-980, September.
  20. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
  21. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
  22. Jan-Egbert Sturm & Jakob De Haan, 2015. "Income Inequality, Capitalism, and Ethno-linguistic Fractionalization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 593-597, May.
  23. Harvey S. James Jr., 2015. "Generalized Morality, Institutions and Economic Growth, and the Intermediating Role of Generalized Trust," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 165-196, 05.
  24. Hans Pitlik & Martin Rode, 2016. "Individualistic Values, Institutional Trust, and Interventionist Attitudes," WIFO Working Papers 515, WIFO.
  25. Dani Rodrik, 2004. "Institutions and Economic Performance - Getting Institutions Right," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 2(2), pages 10-15, October.
  26. Gallup, J.L. & Sachs, J.D. & Mullinger, A., 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," Papers 1, Chicago - Graduate School of Business.
  27. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew D. Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 22(2), pages 179-232, August.
  28. James D . Gwartney & Randall G . Holcombe & Robert A . Lawson, 2006. "Institutions and the Impact of Investment on Growth," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(2), pages 255-273, 05.
  29. Niclas Berggren & Therese Nilsson, 2013. "Does Economic Freedom Foster Tolerance?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 177-207, 05.
  30. Nikolaev, Boris & Salahodjaev, Raufhon, 2017. "Historical Prevalence of Infectious Diseases, Cultural Values, and the Origins of Economic Institutions," MPRA Paper 78435, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  31. Christian Bjørnskov & Axel Dreher & Justina Fischer, 2007. "The bigger the better? Evidence of the effect of government size on life satisfaction around the world," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(3), pages 267-292, March.
  32. Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Roland, Gérard, 2015. "Culture, Institutions and Democratization," CEPR Discussion Papers 10563, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  33. Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Tropics, germs, and crops: how endowments influence economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 3-39, January.
  34. Joshua C. Hall & Robert A. Lawson, 2014. "Economic Freedom Of The World: An Accounting Of The Literature," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(1), pages 1-19, 01.
  35. Licht, Amir N. & Goldschmidt, Chanan & Schwartz, Shalom H., 2007. "Culture rules: The foundations of the rule of law and other norms of governance," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 659-688, December.
  36. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-591, September.
  37. repec:cup:jinsec:v:13:y:2017:i:03:p:575-598_00 is not listed on IDEAS
  38. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
  39. Bennett, Daniel L. & Nikolaev, Boris, 2016. "Factor endowments, the rule of law and structural inequality," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(04), pages 773-795, December.
  40. Hans Pitlik & Ludek Kouba, 2015. "Does social distrust always lead to a stronger support for government intervention?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 163(3), pages 355-377, June.
  41. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  42. Nathan Ashby & Russell Sobel, 2008. "Income inequality and economic freedom in the U.S. states," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 134(3), pages 329-346, March.
  43. David Cass, 1965. "Optimum Growth in an Aggregative Model of Capital Accumulation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(3), pages 233-240.
  44. Evgeni Peev & Dennis C. Mueller, 2012. "Democracy, Economic Freedom and Growth in Transition Economies," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(3), pages 371-407, 08.
  45. Johnson, James P. & Lenartowicz, Tomasz, 1998. "Culture, freedom and economic growth: Do cultural values explain economic growth?," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 332-356, January.
  46. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," CID Working Papers 1, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  47. Daniele, Gianmarco & Geys, Benny, 2015. "Interpersonal trust and welfare state support," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 1-12.
  48. repec:hrv:faseco:30747160 is not listed on IDEAS
  49. Scott Shane, 1995. "Uncertainty Avoidance and the Preference for Innovation Championing Roles," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 26(1), pages 47-68, March.
  50. Alberto Basso, 2015. "Does Democracy Foster the Fertility Transition?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(4), pages 459-474, November.
  51. Mueller,Dennis C., 2003. "Public Choice III," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521894753, September.
  52. Dimitrova-Grajzl, Valentina & Grajzl, Peter & Guse, A. Joseph, 2012. "Trust, perceptions of corruption, and demand for regulation: Evidence from post-socialist countries," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 292-303.
  53. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-950, October.
  54. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:138:y:2017:i:c:p:30-49. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.