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Tastes, castes, and culture: The influence of society on preferences

  • Ernst Fehr
  • Karla Hoff

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 illfounded, 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 Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 026.

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Date of creation: Aug 2011
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Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:026
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  15. Karla Hoff & Priyanka Pandey, 2006. "Discrimination, Social Identity, and Durable Inequalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 206-211, May.
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