i am subscribed to the newsletter of nber (national bureau of economic research) and those who know me, know that besides literature of a particularly dubious nature, i am also a lover of the dismal science. and so the latest issue of the newsletter contained one particularly interesting paper on vengeance, one of the strongest human passions evaluated through the lens of statistics and economics. frankly this sort of thing bothers the hell out of me, because i doubt whether numbers and figures can ever be wrapped around and fully contain the many dizzying facets of human behavior which is notoriously unquantifiable and unpredictable. all the same, there were some interesting findings that i did not want to be lost upon the reader. (and besides, i find the findings to be particularly true of this setting which i presently inhabit.)
from the abstract:

This paper investigates the extent of vengeful feelings and their determinants using data on more than 89,000 individuals from 53 countries. Country characteristics (such as per-capita income, average education of the country, presence of an armed conflict, the extent of the rule-of-law, uninterrupted democracy, individualism) as well as personal attributes of the individuals influence vengeful feelings. The magnitude of vengeful feelings is greater for people in low-income countries, in countries with low levels of education, low levels of the rule-of-law, in collectivist countries and in countries that experienced an armed conflict in recent history. Females, older people, working people, people who live in high-crime areas of their country and people who are at the bottom 50% of their country’s income distribution are more vengeful. The intensity of vengeful feelings dies off gradually over time. The findings suggest that vengeful feelings of people are subdued as a country develops economically and becomes more stable politically and socially and that both country characteristics and personal attributes are important determinants of vengeance. Poor people who live in higher-income societies that are ethno-linguistically homogeneous are as vengeful as rich people who live in low-income societies that are ethno-linguistically fragmented. These results reinforce the idea that some puzzles about individual choice can best be explained by considering the interplay of personal and cultural factors.

Naci H. Mocan

NBER Working Paper No. 14131
Issued in July 2008


~ by safrang on July 17, 2008.

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