Kevin Lewis

December 06, 2011

Culture, Cooperation, and the General Welfare

Nick Berigan & Kyle Irwin
Social Psychology Quarterly, December 2011, Pages 341-360

Solutions to social dilemmas require cooperation. Given that there are commonly multiple avenues for cooperation, sometimes social dilemmas require coordination of strategies in addition to sufficient cooperation to be successful. This study examines one social dilemma where such coordination is necessary: supporting the general welfare. Using World Values Survey data from 33 nations, we compare active membership in charitable organizations versus attitudes toward government welfare programs as examples of two different types of cooperation. We argue that culture influences the form of cooperation a group adopts via the amount of trust it generates. Specifically, individualist cultures promote relatively high levels of trust, which produce first-order cooperation (here, involvement in charitable organizations). Collectivist cultures generate relatively low trust levels, facilitating second-order cooperation (here, greater support for government welfare programs). Findings support our arguments and thus suggest that culture, mediated by trust, shapes individuals' perceptions about creating and sustaining public goods.


The Social Origins of Authoritarianism

Frederick Solt
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Despite much attention to the problematic consequences of authoritarianism, little research focuses on the causes of such unquestioning respect for "proper" authority. Elaborating on the social learning approach to authoritarianism, this article argues that economic inequality within countries shapes individuals' feelings toward authority. As differences in condition increase, so does the relative power of the wealthy. As a result, regardless of their incomes, individuals' experiences are more likely to lead them to view hierarchical relations as natural and, in turn, to hold greater respect for authority. Multilevel models of authoritarianism in countries around the world over three decades support this relative power theory.


"The Entreaties and Perswasions of our Acquaintance": Gambling and Networks in Early America

Kenneth Cohen
Journal of the Early Republic, Winter 2011, Pages 599-638

This article explores the particular form of "public gambling" that emerged at spectator sporting events in early America. The piece begins by describing the origins and function of public gambling in the late colonial period, which arose from efforts to cultivate business and political "friends" rather than a desire for winning bets and money. After the Revolution, this networking function became less connected to close personal friendships, and more closely tied to an impersonal, expanding, and lucrative horse breeding industry, in which bettors used public wagers to express confidence in a bloodline and thus raise its value. Yet the article concludes by showing how the depersonalization of public gambling at racetracks coincided with its adaptation by politicians eager to use the older association with "friendship" to connect with a widening electorate of white men who associated citizenship with bold and successful economic risk-taking. In sum, then, this essay argues that not all gambling was motivated by individualistic greed or marked by class distinction, as much of the current literature suggests. Instead, gambling was a diverse set of practices, and public gambling reveals how the act was used to build extensive vertical networks of "friends" that helped cohere the white male republic.


Cultural Diversity, Geographical Isolation, and the Origin of the Wealth of Nations

Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor
NBER Working Paper, December 2011

This research argues that variations in the interplay between cultural assimilation and cultural diffusion have played a significant role in giving rise to differential patterns of economic development across the globe. Societies that were geographically less vulnerable to cultural diffusion benefited from enhanced assimilation, lower cultural diversity, and more intense accumulation of society-specific human capital. Thus, they operated more efficiently with respect to their production-possibility frontiers and flourished in the technological paradigm that characterized the agricultural stage of development. The lack of cultural diffusion and its manifestation in cultural rigidity, however, diminished the ability of these societies to adapt to a new technological paradigm, which delayed their industrialization and, hence, their take-off to a state of sustained economic growth. The theory thus contributes to the understanding of the advent of divergence and overtaking in the process of development. Consistently with the theory, the empirical analysis establishes that (i) geographical isolation prevalent in pre-industrial times (i.e., prior to the advent of airborne transportation technology) has had a persistent negative impact on the extent of contemporary cultural diversity; (ii) pre-industrial geographical isolation had a positive impact on economic development in the agricultural stage but has had a negative impact on income per capita in the course of industrialization; and (iii) cultural diversity, as determined exogenously by pre-industrial geographical isolation, has had a positive impact on economic development in the process of industrialization.


The past as a determinant of the present: Historical continuity, collective angst, and opposition to immigration

Jolanda Jetten & Michael Wohl
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

We propose that the perceived continuity between a group's past and present can be a psychological resource that provides confidence in the group's future vitality, thereby reducing the need to preserve identity. In two studies, English participants were told that there was continuity or discontinuity between England's past and present. Both studies showed that higher identifiers (but not lower identifiers) experienced more collective angst (i.e., concern for the group's future) and were more opposed to immigration when English history was presented as discontinuous compared with continuous. Importantly, collective angst mediated the effect of the historical continuity manipulation on opposition to immigration. We conclude that, particularly among those higher in group identification, perceived discontinuity of the group's past can undermine the perceived vitality of the future, thereby increasing the need to preserve current collective identity.


The Demand for Social Insurance: Does Culture Matter?

Beatrix Eugster et al.
Economic Journal, November 2011, Pages F413-F448

Does culture shape the demand for social insurance against risks to health and work? We study this issue across language groups in Switzerland where a language border sharply separates social groups at identical actual levels of publicly provided social insurance. We find substantially stronger support for expansions of social insurance among residents of French, Italian or Romansh-speaking language border municipalities compared with their German-speaking neighbours in adjacent municipalities. Informal insurance does not vary enough to explain stark differences in social insurance but differences in ideology and segmented media markets potentially contribute to the discrepancy in demand for social insurance.


Differences in the Perceived Effectiveness of Influence Tactics Among Jews and Arabs: The Mediating Role of Cultural Values

Enas Qiadan, Aharon Tziner & Ronit Waismel-Manor
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

The study investigates differences between Jewish and Arab employees vis-à-vis their evaluation of the effectiveness of several influence tactics, and examines whether these differences are mediated by cultural differences. Rational persuasion was the only influence tactic that was evaluated as more effective by Jewish employees, in comparison with Arab employees. In contrast, ingratiation, pressure, and coalition were evaluated as more effective by Arab employees, in comparison with Jewish employees. Regarding cultural values, we found indulgence higher among Jewish employees than among Arabs, whereas uncertainty avoidance was higher among Arab employees. Examination of the mediating processes indicates that even after removing the influence of cultural values, Arab employees still judged these 3 tactics as more effective than did Jewish employees.


Generational Memory and the Critical Period: Evidence for National and World Events

Howard Schuman & Amy Corning
Public Opinion Quarterly, forthcoming

We bring together survey data from sources both new and old in order to test the generational hypothesis that national and world events experienced during a "critical period" of later childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood have a disproportionate effect on memories, attitudes, and actions in later life. We also consider competing explanations for the same evidence, especially interpretations based on period and recency effects. Our data come from nine surveys, mostly national, carried out in the United States between 1985 and 2010, and from surveys in six other countries (China, Germany, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, and Russia). The hypothesis is largely supported for recall of past events, and also for commemorative behavior connected to World War II and to the Vietnam War. The evidence is mixed with regard to attitudes toward the Gulf War and the Iraq invasion, emphasizing the distinction between generational effects that result from lifetime experience and those due to a critical period. In the course of our analysis, we consider most of the major events faced by Americans over the past 80 years, ranging from the Great Depression to current issues, and including such national traumas as the assassination of President Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and the 9/11/01 terrorist attack. We also examine comparable events in other countries. Our major goal throughout remains theoretically driven: testing the proposition that national and world events experienced early in life are likely to be remembered and to be especially influential in shaping future attitudes and actions.


Intergenerational linkages in consumption patterns and the geographical distribution of surnames

Dolores Collado, Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín & Andrés Romeu
Regional Science and Urban Economics, January 2012, Pages 341-350

This paper attempts to detect the existence of links in consumption patterns between generations. Preferences over consumption goods may be determined by the preferences of parents and/or by preferences arising from the environment. We propose an indirect methodology to overcome the lack of data on consumption choices of dynasties, i.e., parents and their adult offspring. This new approach is based on the analysis of the correlation between the geographical distributions of surnames and consumption choices. We show that there is no significant intergenerational link on consumption patterns for non-food goods. Our results also suggest that there is a link between parents' and children's preferences over food items.


The not so dark side of trust: Does trust increase the size of the shadow economy?

Johanna D'Hernoncourt & Pierre-Guillaume Méon
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, January 2012, Pages 97-121

This paper reports a negative relationship between the size of the shadow economy and generalized trust, in a sample of countries, both developed and developing. That relationship is robust to controlling for a large set of economic, policy, and institutional variables, to changing the estimate of the shadow economy and the estimation period, and to controlling for endogeneity. It is independent from trust in institutions and from income inequality, and is mainly present in the sample of developing countries. Those findings suggest that the tax compliance effect of trust dominates its role as a substitute for the formal legal system.


Pelagic Fishing at 42,000 Years Before the Present and the Maritime Skills of Modern Humans

Sue O'Connor, Rintaro Ono & Chris Clarkson
Science, 25 November 2011, Pages 1117-1121

By 50,000 years ago, it is clear that modern humans were capable of long-distance sea travel as they colonized Australia. However, evidence for advanced maritime skills, and for fishing in particular, is rare before the terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene. Here we report remains of a variety of pelagic and other fish species dating to 42,000 years before the present from Jerimalai shelter in East Timor, as well as the earliest definite evidence for fishhook manufacture in the world. Capturing pelagic fish such as tuna requires high levels of planning and complex maritime technology. The evidence implies that the inhabitants were fishing in the deep sea.


Comparing Per Capita Income in the Hellenistic World: The Case of Mesopotamia

Peter Foldvari & Bas Van Leeuwen
Review of Income and Wealth, forthcoming

Until quite recently, GDP growth between ca. 1 CE and the late Middle Ages was considered non-existent or even negative. Recently, largely on account of increasing interest in historical national accounting, the late-medieval figures have been revised upward, in line with an upward adjustment in the estimated shares of manufacturing and pasture. Leaving GDPs dating from the ancient world unaltered would consequently generate figures indicating increased economic growth during the first millennium CE. A considerable number of studies of the late-medieval period (the object of increasing attention on the part of specialists in early economic history) have caused estimates for the ancient one to be revised upwards, essentially leaving estimates of the changes in economic development over time unaltered. These studies, however, have focused on the Roman Empire and Italia while there is a consensus in the literature that it was quite unrepresentative of all ancient societies with its relatively high share of GDP from the manufacturing sector of the economy. We therefore estimate a new per capita income for another contemporary agrarian society: ancient Mesopotamia. In addition, by examining manufacturing and pasture - the two main reasons for higher income which have been identified in the literature - we have found a tentative explanation for the fact that ancient Mesopotamia's per capita income deviated from that of Rome.


Left-wing authoritarianism is not a myth, but a worrisome reality. Evidence from 13 Eastern European countries

Sabrina de Regt, Dimitri Mortelmans & Tim Smits
Communist and Post-Communist Studies, December 2011, Pages 299-308

A sometimes heated debate between authoritarianism researchers takes place on the issue of authoritarianism on the left. Some researchers argue that authoritarianism is typical for right-wing political orientation while other researchers assert that authoritarianism can also be found at the left side of the political spectrum. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, we aim to contribute to the ongoing discussion on left-wing authoritarianism. Using representative samples, the relationship between authoritarianism and political preferences is examined in 13 ex-communist Eastern European countries. Employing six different indicators of left-wing/communist political orientations make clear that, despite cross-national differences, left-wing authoritarianism is definitely not a myth in Eastern European countries. Second, it was aimed to survey whether authoritarian persons in Eastern European countries might be a possible threat for the transition to democracy. Based upon five items it was demonstrated that in general the Eastern European population seems to hold a positive opinion on democracy. However, it becomes also clear that authoritarian persons in the ex-communist countries are significantly less positive towards democracy.

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