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Culturally Risk Averse? – A Model of Economic Growth with Endogenous Culture


  • Mariko Klasing



This research studies the dynamic interplay between the evolution of cultural traits and the process of economic development. In particular, this paper shows how cultural attitudes, in this case differences in risk attitudes, influence economic decision making while at the same time illustrating how these attitudes endogenously change over time. In order to study this joint evolution of cultural and economic variables, an endogenous growth model is integrated with a cultural transmission mechanism along the lines of Bisin & Verdier. This provides us with a framework for the analysis of cultural attitudes that is both general and flexible so that it could be adapted for the study of culture in its full multidimensionality. The model predicts that higher economic success of more risk tolerant agents will over time lead to an increase in their representation in the society, which in turn will speed up economic growth. At the same time, though, the more risk averse type will not be completely eliminated. Using individual level data on risk attitudes across Chinese provinces, empirical evidence supporting this relationship between economic incentives and risk attitudes is provided.

Suggested Citation

  • Mariko Klasing, 2008. "Culturally Risk Averse? – A Model of Economic Growth with Endogenous Culture," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2008 2008-23, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2008:2008-23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli, 2006. "Fertility: The Role of Culture and Family Experience," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 552-561, 04-05.
    2. Raquel Fernandez, 2007. "Women, Work, and Culture," NBER Working Papers 12888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Neher, Philip A, 1971. "Peasants, Procreation, and Pensions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(3), pages 380-389, June.
    4. Fernández, Raquel, 2007. "Women, Work and Culture," CEPR Discussion Papers 6153, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Kanbur, S M, 1979. "Of Risk Taking and the Personal Distribution of Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 769-797, August.
    6. Shane, Scott A., 1992. "Why do some societies invent more than others?," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 29-46, January.
    7. Sherman Robinson, 1971. "Sources of Growth in Less Developed Countries: A Cross-Section Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(3), pages 391-408.
    8. Shaw, Kathryn L, 1996. "An Empirical Analysis of Risk Aversion and Income Growth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(4), pages 626-653, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Annie Tubadji & Brian Osoba & Peter Nijkamp, 2015. "Culture-based development in the USA: culture as a factor for economic welfare and social well-being at a county level," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 39(3), pages 277-303, August.

    More about this item


    Economic growth; cultural change; cultural transmission; risk aversion;

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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