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Tastes, Castes, and Culture: The Influence of Society on Preferences

  • Fehr, Ernst

    ()

    (University of Zurich)

  • Hoff, Karla

    ()

    (World Bank)

Economists have traditionally treated preferences as exogenously given. Preferences are assumed to be influenced by neither beliefs nor the constraints people face. As a consequence, changes in behaviour are explained exclusively in terms of changes in the set of feasible alternatives. Here we argue that the opposition to explaining behavioural changes in terms of preference changes is ill-founded, that the psychological properties of preferences render them susceptible to direct social influences, and that the impact of "society" on preferences is likely to have important economic and social consequences.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5919.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Journal, 2011, 121 (556), 396-412
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5919
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  1. Beatrix Brügger & Rafael Lalive & Andreas Steinhauer & Josef Zweimüller, 2011. "The demand for social insurance: does culture matter?," ECON - Working Papers 041, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Karla Hoff & Priyanka Pandey, 2006. "Discrimination, Social Identity, and Durable Inequalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 206-211, May.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Joseph Henrich & Robert Boyd, 2003. "In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small- Scale Societies," Microeconomics 0305009, EconWPA.
  4. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2007. "Occupational Choice and the Spirit of Capitalism," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2007-049, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  5. Klaus Abbink & Jordi Brandts & Benedikt Herrmann & Henrik Orzen, 2007. "Inter-Group Conflict and Intra-Group Punishment in an Experimental Contest Game," Discussion Papers 2007-15, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  6. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter & Ernst Fehr, . "Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 016, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  8. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1985. "Information and Economic Analysis: A Perspective," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(380a), pages 21-41, Supplemen.
  9. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
  10. Adrian Bruhin & Helga Fehr-Duda & Thomas Epper, 2007. "Risk and Rationality: Uncovering Heterogeneity in Probability Distortion," SOI - Working Papers 0705, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich, revised Jul 2007.
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  12. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  13. Alois Stutzer & Lorenz Goette & Michael Zehnder, 2011. "Active Decisions and Prosocial Behaviour: a Field Experiment on Blood Donation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(556), pages F476-F493, November.
  14. Thomas Piketty, 1994. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," Working papers 94-15, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  15. Maarten Voors & Eleonora Nillesen & Philip Verwimp & Erwin Bulte & Robert Lensink & Daan van Soest, 2010. "Does Conflict affect Preferences? Results from Field Experiments in Burundi," HiCN Working Papers 71, Households in Conflict Network.
  16. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521524131 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Hoff, Karla & Kshetramade, Mayuresh & Fehr, Ernst, 2009. "Caste and Punishment: The Legacy of Caste Culture in Norm Enforcement," IZA Discussion Papers 4343, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
  19. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2005. "The Behavioural Effects of Minimum Wages," CEPR Discussion Papers 5115, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Joseph Henrich & Steve J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan, 2010. "The Weirdest People in the World?," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 139, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
  21. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  22. Nicholas Stern & Jean-Jacques Dethier & F. Halsey Rogers, 2006. "Growth and Empowerment: Making Development Happen," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262693461, June.
  23. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521524124 is not listed on IDEAS
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  25. Etzioni, Amitai, 1985. "Opening the preferences: A Socio-economic research agenda," Journal of Behavioral Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 183-198.
  26. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521818742 is not listed on IDEAS
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