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Are Smarter People Better Samaritans? Effect of Cognitive Abilities on Pro-Social Behaviors

  • Luis Aranda


    (Advanced School of Economics, University Ca' Foscari of Venice)

  • Martin Daniel Siyaranamual


    (Department of Economics, Padjadjaran University)

This study investigates how cognitive abilities and civic engagement of older Europeans (aged 50+), using waves two and three of the SHARE dataset. An instrumental variable approach is employed in an at-tempt to disentangle possible endogeneity issues arising between cognition and pro-social behaviors. In so doing, cognitive abilities are instrumented with the number of books in the respondent's place of residence during childhood. The results advocate for the existence of a causal relationship running from cognition in old age to community engagement. Though contradicting standard theoretical predictions, this empirical finding is in line with mainline experimental results showing how participants with higher cognitive abilities tend to be less risk averse, and thus more willing to opt for a payoff-dominant action in a stag hunt game context more often.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Padjadjaran University in its series Working Papers in Economics and Development Studies (WoPEDS) with number 201405.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: May 2014
Date of revision: May 2014
Handle: RePEc:unp:wpaper:201405
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