Indigenous to the area

Kevin Lewis

September 14, 2017

Wheat Agriculture and Family Ties
James Ang & Per Fredriksson
European Economic Review, November 2017, Pages 236-256


Several recent contributions to the literature have suggested that the strength of family ties is related to various economic and social outcomes. For example, Alesina and Giuliano (2014) highlight that the strength of family ties is strongly correlated with lower GDP and lower quality of institutions. However, the forces shaping family ties remain relatively unexplored in the literature. This paper proposes and tests the hypothesis that the agricultural legacy of a country matters for shaping the strength of its family ties. Using data from the World Values Survey and the European Values Study, the results show that societies with a legacy in cultivating wheat tend to have weaker family ties. Analysis at the sub-national level (US data) and the country level corroborate these findings. The estimations allow for alternative hypotheses which propose that pathogen stress and climatic variation can potentially also give rise to the formation of family ties. The results suggest that the suitability of land for wheat production is the most influential factor in explaining the variation in the strength of family ties across societies and countries.

To Be or Not to Be (Black or Multiracial or White): Cultural Variation in Racial Boundaries
Jacqueline Chen et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming


Culture shapes the meaning of race and, consequently, who is placed into which racial categories. Three experiments conducted in the United States and Brazil illustrated the cultural nature of racial categorization. In Experiment 1, a target’s racial ancestry influenced Americans’ categorizations but had no impact on Brazilians’ categorizations. Experiment 2 showed cultural differences in the reliance on two phenotypic cues to race; Brazilians’ categorizations were more strongly determined by skin tone than were Americans’ categorizations, and Americans’ categorizations were more strongly determined by other facial features compared to Brazilians' categorizations. Experiment 3 demonstrated cultural differences in the motivated use of racial categories. When the racial hierarchy was threatened, only Americans more strictly enforced the Black–White racial boundary. Cultural forces shape the conceptual, perceptual, and ideological construal of racial categories.

Languages and Corporate Savings Behavior
Shimin Chen et al.
Journal of Corporate Finance, October 2017, Pages 320-341


Speakers of strong future time reference (FTR) languages (e.g., English) are required to grammatically distinguish between future and present events, while speakers of weak-FTR languages (e.g., Chinese) are not. We hypothesize that speaking about the future in the present tense may result in the belief that adverse credit events are more imminent. Consistent with such a linguistic hypothesis, weak-FTR language firms are found to have higher precautionary cash holdings. We report additional supportive results from changes in the relative importance of different languages in a country’s business domain, evidence from within one country with several distinct languages, and results related to changes following a severe financial crisis. Our evidence introduces a new explanation for heterogeneity in corporate savings behavior, provides insights about belief formation in firms, and adds to research on the effects of languages on economic outcomes.

Twenty-Five Years of Materialism: Do the US and Europe Diverge?
Stefano Bartolini & Francesco Sarracino
Social Indicators Research, September 2017, Pages 787–817


Using data from the World Values Survey and the European Values Study, we compare the trends of materialism over the last quarter of century among the US and six major European countries: France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Sweden. We use the definition of materialism adopted by positive psychologists. We find that the trends in Europe and in the US diverged. In the US materialism increased, while in Europe it decreased. However, some mixed patterns arise. In particular, Great Britain, Spain and Sweden showed some symptoms of an increase of materialistic values, although they were far less pronounced compared to the American ones. As far as the levels of materialism are concerned, it is interesting that, according to most of our measures, Americans were relatively less materialistic at the beginning of our period of observation. Yet, towards the end of the period they scored very high in the ranking of materialism in our sample of countries.

Can Superstition Create a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? School Outcomes of Dragon Children of China
Naci Mocan & Han Yu
NBER Working Paper, August 2017


In Chinese culture those who are born in the year of the Dragon under the zodiac calendar are believed to be destined for good fortune and greatness, and parents prefer their kids to be born in a Dragon year. Using province level panel data we show that the number of marriages goes up during the two years preceding a Dragon year and that births jump up in a Dragon year. Using three recently collected micro data sets from China we show that those born in a Dragon year are more likely to have a college education, and that they obtain higher scores at the university entrance exam. Similarly, Chinese middle school students have higher test scores if they are born in a Dragon year. We show that these results are not because of family background, student cognitive ability, self-esteem or students’ expectations about their future. We find, however, that the “Dragon” effect on test scores is eliminated when we account for parents’ expectations about their children’s educational and professional success. We find that parents of Dragon children have higher expectations for their children in comparison to other parents, and that they invest more heavily in their children in terms of time and money. Even though neither the Dragon children nor their families are inherently different from other children and families, the belief in the prophecy of success and the ensuing investment become self-fulfilling.

U.S. State Resident Big Five Personality and Work Satisfaction: The Importance of Neuroticism
Stewart McCann
Cross-Cultural Research, forthcoming


Two studies determined relations between state resident Big Five personality scores and state work satisfaction for the 50 states in the United States. Study 1 and 2 personality profiles were based on responses of 619,397 residents to the 44-item Big Five Inventory. For Studies 1 and 2, state work satisfaction scores were respectively taken from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index based on 353,039 phone interviews in 2008 and on 353,564 in 2012. Higher neuroticism was associated with lower work satisfaction (r = −.49, p < .001) in both studies despite negative recession impacts in Study 2. In Study 1, the robust relation persisted with state socioeconomic status, percent of White population identified in the census, urban population percent, unemployment rate, economic conservatism, income inequality, and political conservatism controlled. In Study 2, the relation persisted while controlling for peak-recession and end-of-recession unemployment rates, 2010-2011 GDP growth, and the other corresponding control variables of Study 1.

Do cultures vary in self-enhancement? ERP, behavioral, and self-report evidence
Ryan Hampton & Michael Varnum
Social Neuroscience, forthcoming


Psychologists have long debated whether self-enhancement is universal or varies across cultures. Extant studies using explicit and implicit measures have provided mixed results. In this study (N = 93; 35 European American, 58 Chinese: 28 tested in English, 30 tested in Mandarin), we measured self-enhancement covertly using an ERP paradigm. Self-enhancement was also assessed via self-report and reaction-time based measures. Americans showed strong evidence of self-enhancement across all measures, whereas this effect was absent or weaker among Chinese, who instead showed an other-enhancing bias across measures. Language did not affect self-enhancement tendencies among Chinese participants, with the exception of one self-report measure. Nor did the two cultural groups differ in enhancement for a close other. This is the first study to directly compare self-enhancement across cultural groups using ERPs and provides evidence that positive self-regard does indeed vary by culture.

Extraversion and life satisfaction: A cross-cultural examination of student and nationally representative samples
Hyunji Kim et al.
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Method: The current study examined student and nationally representative samples from Canada, US, UK, Germany and Japan (Study 1, N = 1,460; Study 2, N = 5,882; Study 3, N =18,683; Study 4, N = 13,443; Study 5, Japan N = 952 and US N = 891). The relationship between Extraversion and life satisfaction was examined using structural equation modeling by regressing life satisfaction on the Big Five traits.

Results: Extraversion was a unique predictor of life satisfaction in the North American student and nationally representative samples (Study 1, β = .232; Study 2, β = .225; Study 5, β = .217) but the effect size was weaker or absent in other non-North American samples (Germany, UK, and Japan).

Linking Positive Affect to Blood Lipids: A Cultural Perspective
Jiah Yoo et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming


Higher levels of positive affect have been associated with better physical health. While positive affect is seen as highly desirable among Westerners, East Asians tend to deemphasize positive affect. Using large probability samples of Japanese and U.S. adult populations, the present study examined the relations of positive affect with serum lipid profiles, known to be strongly predictive of risk for cardiovascular disease, and tested whether their associations depend on cultural contexts. As predicted, positive affect was associated with healthier lipid profiles for Americans but not for Japanese. Further analyses showed that this cultural moderation was mediated by body mass index. This study highlights the role of culture in the link between positive emotions and key biological risk factors of cardiovascular disease.

A worldwide consensus on nudging? Not quite, but almost
Cass Sunstein, Lucia Reisch & Julius Rauber
Regulation & Governance, forthcoming


Nudges are choice-preserving interventions that steer people's behavior in specific directions while still allowing them to go their own way. Some nudges have been controversial, because they are seen as objectionably paternalistic. This study reports on nationally representative surveys in eight diverse countries, investigating what people actually think about nudges and nudging. The study covers Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Russia, South Africa, and South Korea. Generally, we find strong majority support for nudges in all countries, with the important exception of Japan, and with spectacularly high approval rates in China and South Korea. We connect the findings here to earlier studies involving Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Our primary conclusion is that while citizens generally approve of health and safety nudges, the nations of the world appear to fall into three distinct categories: (i) a group of nations, mostly liberal democracies, where strong majorities approve of nudges whenever they (a) are seen to fit with the interests and values of most citizens and (b) do not have illicit purposes; (ii) a group of nations where overwhelming majorities approve of nearly all nudges; and (iii) a group of nations that usually show majority approval, but markedly reduced approval rates. We offer some speculations about the relationship between approval rates and trust.

Multilingualism and public goods provision: An experiment in two languages in Uganda
Paul Clist & Arjan Verschoor
Journal of Development Economics, November 2017, Pages 47-57


Multilingualism is the global norm, but the implications of this for cooperation and public goods provision have not been studied before. We test whether the language in which a public goods game is played affects subjects' contributions amongst a bilingual population in eastern Uganda, finding that subjects contribute 30% more on average in the national language. This treatment effect is solely driven by those most associated with the local Gisu identity, for whom contributions are 43–74% higher in the national language. This difference fits with Gisu culture's high value on self-reliance and low value on reciprocity and cooperation, due to a violent history of intense competition over land. Language is thus shown to affect cooperation, but only for individuals who both have different latent norms and for whom language activates these norms.

A Reconsideration of Hofstede’s Fifth Dimension: New Flexibility Versus Monumentalism Data From 54 Countries
Michael Minkov et al.
Cross-Cultural Research, forthcoming


Hofstede’s “long-term orientation” (LTO) may be one of the most important dimensions of national culture, as it highlights differences on a continuum from East Asia to Africa and Latin America, strongly associated with differences in educational achievement. However, LTO’s structure lacks theoretical coherence. We show that a statistically similar, and theoretically more focused and coherent, dimension of national culture, called “flexibility versus monumentalism,” or vice versa, can be extracted from national differences in self-enhancement and self-stability or self-consistency, as well as a willingness to help people. Using data from nearly 53,000 respondents recruited probabilistically from 54 countries, we provide a new national flexibility-versus-monumentalism index that measures key cultural differences on the world’s East–West geographic axis and predicts educational achievement better than LTO or any other known dimension of national culture.

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