Jean Tirole, Roland Bénabou, 21 November 2011

Why do many oppose the selling of human organs if, as economists argue, this would increase supply? Economists see material incentives as key to changing behaviour – and are puzzled if incentives don’t work as expected. For psychologists, social norms explain such behaviour; legal scholars say law can shape society’s norms. CEPR DP8663 tries to reconcile these disparate insights with a unifying theory that could explain puzzles such the aversion to organ-selling as well as why so many people resist economists’ advice.

Lasse Steiner, Bruno S. Frey, 18 November 2011

There are nearly 1,000 UNESCO World Heritage sites. These sites benefit hugely from tourism, so suspicions of fixing the judges’ verdicts are rife. This column suggests a novel way to get rid of the politicisation: random selection.

Alberto Alesina, Paola Giuliano, Nathan Nunn, 06 June 2011

Why do levels of female participation in the labour force vary so extremely around the world? The authors of CEPR DP8418 test the hypothesis that cultural notions of 'a woman's place' originated with agricultural practices. They find evidence that the division of labour associated with plough agriculture contributed to development of norms that confined women to the home. These norms appear to persist through generations.

Nico Voigtländer, Hans-Joachim Voth, 22 May 2011

Is violence a cultural trait passed from one generation to the next? This column examines an extreme case – anti-Semitism in Germany. It shows that towns that murdered their Jews during the Black Death (1348-1350) were also much more likely to commit violence or engage in anti-Semitic acts in interwar Germany, nearly 600 years later. This suggests racial hatred can persist over centuries.

Elias Papaioannou, Stelios Michalopoulos, 15 November 2010

How much influence did colonisation have on Africa’s development? This column examines data from before colonisation up to the modern day and argues that differences in colonial institutions do not explain differences in regional economic performance. Instead, it finds that pre-colonial political centralisation and ethnic class stratification have a significantly positive impact on local development.

Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Gérard Roland, 21 September 2010

Does culture affect long-run growth? This column argues that countries with a more individualist culture have enjoyed higher long-run growth than countries with a more collectivist culture. Individualist culture attaches social status rewards to personal achievements and thus provides not only monetary incentives for innovation but also social status rewards.

Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Gérard Roland, 20 September 2010

CEPR DP 8013 models and tests the impact on growth of a cultural variable along a dimension of individualism/collectivism. Using genetic data to instrumentalize cultural transmission, the authors find a robust effect of individualism on productivity, income, and innovation.

Joel Waldfogel, Fernando Ferreira, 29 May 2010

Is pop music leading to cultural globalisation with the US at the helm? This column examines data from over a million chart entries in 22 countries covering 98% of the world music market. It finds no evidence that the rise of music trade has eroded interest in local music production or consumption. In fact some smaller countries actually benefit disproportionately.

Carmine Guerriero, 19 December 2009

Do different types of legal system have a lasting effect on the economy? The emerging consensus would argue “yes”. This column suggests that types of legal system can change depending on the culture and political institutions of the country. Determining the effect on the economy is not straightforward.

Paola Giuliano, Luigi Guiso, Jeffrey Butler, 08 October 2009

Virtually every commercial transaction involves trust, and more trusting societies tend to be richer. But does it pay individuals to trust? This column suggests that relationship between trust and income is not always increasing but is instead hump-shaped. Individuals that mistrust too much tend to miss profitable opportunities, while those who are too trusting are cheated abnormally often.

Alison Booth, 14 September 2009

Women are underrepresented in high-paying jobs and upper management. Is that due to gender differences in risk aversion and facing competition? This column describes an experiment in which girls were found to be as competitive and risk-taking as boys when surrounded by only girls. This suggests cultural pressure to act as a girl could explain gender differences that are not innate.

Patrick Francois, Thomas Fujiwara, Tanguy van Ypersele, 27 August 2009

Recent research argues that culture affects economic outcomes. Do markets instil cultural values that support good outcomes? This column provides evidence that more competitive markets raise employees’ trust levels. That suggests that competitive markets build the values that support them.

Keith Head, Thierry Mayer, 16 March 2009

Do cultural imports threaten domestic customs and traditions? This column explains how further liberalisation of trade in audiovisual services would indeed induce cultural change, using the example of foreign influence on names. However, these changes are generally modest, and consumers gain from the enjoyment of consuming cultural goods and a broader cultural choice set.

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