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

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  • Luis Aranda

    () (Department of Economics, University Of Venice C� Foscari)

  • Martin Siyaranamual

    (Department of Economics, University Of Venice C� Foscari)

Abstract

This study investigates the link between 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 attempt 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Luis Aranda & Martin Siyaranamual, 2014. "Are Smarter People Better Samaritans? Effect of Cognitive Abilities on Pro-Social Behaviors," Working Papers 2014:06, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  • Handle: RePEc:ven:wpaper:2014:06
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    Keywords

    Cognitive ability; civic engagement; instrumental variables; risk aversion; we-rationality.;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations

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