Uwe Sunde: Preference Convergence Around the World?

4/18/2023 at 4:00pm ET

Griffin 6

Individual preferences are the core of human decision making models. While recent evidence has documented profound preference heterogeneity across and within populations, little is known about its dynamics. Here we test whether heterogeneity in preferences related to time, risk, and social interactions persists or instead converges among more recent birth cohorts across and within countries. Using preference measures for 80,000 individuals elicited in representative samples of 76 countries from all continents, we find evidence of preference convergence among more recent cohorts across countries, both in terms of differences in location (means) and scale (standard deviations). Similar convergence patterns are found among women and men within countries. These convergence patterns obtain for countries at different levels of economic development, with different ethnic composition and historical population flows, and do not reflect convergence to preferences of the US population. (joint work with Rainer Kotschy)