Institutions, Morals, and Markets

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Crystal A
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Alberto Bisin, New York University

Groupy Versus Non-Groupy Social Preferences: Personality, Region, and Politics

Rachel Kranton
,
Duke University
Seth Sanders
,
Duke University

Abstract

When allocating income, some people are “groupy” and discriminate between in and out groups but many participants are “non-groupy” and show no such bias.  This paper replicates these results in a large sample and explores individual psychometric, demographic, and political correlates.  We conduct an M-Turk experiment, using a control and a minimal group treatment, with more than 1300 participants from across the United States.  We find that not one of the “Big Five” personality traits relates to this difference across individuals.  Gender, family income, and political party per se also have no predictive power.  Hints of a  regional-political distinction do emerge, however.  Republicans participants who live in the Deep South are significantly more likely to be “groupy” than non-groupy.  The results indicate (i) current psychological notions of personality do not capture this individual heterogeneity and (ii) groupiness might relate to political and social contestation.

Altruistic capital in banking

Nava Ashraf
,
London School of Economics and Political Science
Oriana Bandiera
,
London School of Economics and Political Science

Abstract

We collect and analyze unique survey data on social impact and social worth of approximately 9000 employees of a large global bank across 55 countries. We show that: (i) the answers given by bank employees do not differ systematically from answers to the same questions asked of employees in pro-social jobs; (ii) both perceived social impact and social worth are correlated with performance and proxies of pro-social behavior; (iii) perceived social worth is lower in countries more severely hit by the financial crisis. The results suggest that bank employees are affected by society’s perception of their impact and the crisis might have triggered a vicious cycle that potentially reduces social welfare.

Economic Development and the Regulation of Taboo Trades

Julio Elias
,
University of CEMA
Nicola Lacetera
,
University of Toronto
Mario Macis
,
Johns Hopkins University
Paola Salardi
,
University of Toronto

Abstract

Societies prohibit many economic activities because they consider them morally “repugnant”, even in the absence of direct negative externalities or safety concerns. Not only have these prohibitions and related ethical concerns changed over time, but there is also wide heterogeneity in how countries regulate these “taboo trades” in a given time. In this study we provide evidence of this heterogeneity for three activities that are considered morally controversial: abortion, prostitution, and surrogacy. In particular we explore the relationship between a country’s economic conditions and the type of legislation regulating these activities. We also assess how historical, cultural and political factors affect the relationship between economic development and the regulation of morally controversial transactions.

The Challenge of Measuring National Well-Being

Daniel J. Benjamin
,
University of Southern California
Kristen Cooper
,
Gordon College
Ori Heffetz
,
Cornell University
Miles Kimball
,
University of Colorado Boulder

Abstract

The development of the concepts and techniques for measuring GDP was a
careful and sometimes arduous process. The development of National
Well-Being indices should be approached with the same level of care.
Even leaving aside the thorny issue of interpersonal aggregation,
primary challenges include identifying the aspects of well-being to
include in the index, formulating survey questions to measure the
levels of different aspects and the relative importance of each
aspect, and choosing and interpreting the response scales. We discuss
progress to date on these issues, remaining challenges, and some
possible approaches to overcoming them.
Discussant(s)
Miles Kimball
,
University of Colorado Boulder
Nicola Lacetera
,
University of Toronto
Melissa Kearney
,
University of Maryland
Alberto Bisin
,
New York University
JEL Classifications
  • N0 - General