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Is There a Development Gap in Rationality?

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Abstract

We report an experimental test of the four touchstones of rationality in choice under risk – utility maximization, stochastic dominance, expected-utility maximization and small-stakes risk neutrality – with students from one of the best universities in the United States and one of the best universities in Africa, the University of Dar es Salaam. Although the US and the Tanzanian subjects come from different backgrounds and face different economic prospects, they are united by being among the most able in their societies. Importantly, many of whom will exercise an outsized influence over economic and political affairs. We find very small or no significant differences between the two samples in the degree of rationality according to a number of standard economic measures. An alternative approach is to take cognitive ability (IQ) as a proxy for economic rationality. We show that a canonical IQ test indicates a much larger development gap in rationality relative to our economic tests.

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  • Cappelen, Alexander W. & Kariv, Shachar & Sørensen, Erik Ø. & Tungodden, Bertil, 2014. "Is There a Development Gap in Rationality?," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 8/2014, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhheco:2014_008
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    Cited by:

    1. Carrillo, Juan & Brocas, Isabelle & Combs, T. Dalton, 2015. "Consistency in Simple vs. Complex Choices over the Life Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 10457, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D. & Combs, T. Dalton & Kodaverdian, Niree, 2019. "Consistency in simple vs. complex choices by younger and older adults," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 580-601.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Development; rationality; revealed preference; stochastic dominance; expected utility; risk aversion; cognitive ability; experiment.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • F61 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Microeconomic Impacts
    • F63 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Economic Development
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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