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The Nature and Predictive Power of Preferences: Global Evidence

This paper presents the Global Preference Survey, a globally representative dataset on risk and time preferences, positive and negative reciprocity, altruism, and trust. We collected these preference data as well as a rich set of covariates for 80,000 individuals, drawn as representative samples from 76 countries around the world, representing 90 percent of both the world’s population and global income. The global distribution of preferences exhibits substantial variation across countries, which is partly systematic: certain preferences appear in combination, and follow distinct economic, institutional, and geographic patterns. The heterogeneity in preferences across individuals is even more pronounced and varies systematically with age, gender, and cognitive ability. Around the world, our preference measures are predictive of a wide range of individual-level behaviors including savings and schooling decisions, labor market and health choices, prosocial behaviors, and family structure. We also shed light on the cultural origins of preference variation around the globe using data on language structure.

Authors: 
Armin Falk, University of Bonn
Anke Becker, Bonn Graduate School of Economics
Thomas Dohmen, Universität Bonn
Benjamin Enke, University of Bonn
David Huffman, Swarthmore College
Uwe Sunde, University of Munich
Publication Date: 
February, 2016
HCEO Working Groups: 
Publication Status: 
Document Number: 
2016-004
File Description: 
First version, November, 2015