Chen, Daniel L. (2016) Markets, Morality, and Economic Growth: Competition Affects Utilitarian Judgment. TSE Working Paper, n. 16-692

[thumbnail of wp_tse_692.pdf]
Download (1MB) | Preview


Scholars since Hume and Smith have debated possible causal connections between market experiences and moral beliefs. Of particular interest today are questions related to incentive designs: for example, could the structure of employment affect moral attitudes? Here, I study the impact of employment structure on three normative issues: utilitarian versus deontological values, other-regarding preferences, and charitable donations. Through a labor market intermediary, I randomly assigned workers to competitive or piece-rate work conditions. The groups were given a moral question posing a conflict between utilitarian and deontological values, and offered a choice to make a charitable donation. The moral question was accompanied by an illustration that made salient outgroup considerations. Four results emerge: Competitively structured work experiences increased deontological value choices, deontological commitments towards outgroup members, and donations by productive workers relative to non-productive workers; and the effects on deontological value choices differ over economic development. I reconcile these results with a formal model based on experimental findings in affective moral psychology. When competition is perceived as unfair or unfamiliar, negative affect triggers deontological value choices, but when it is perceived as familiar or even fun, positive affect increases utilitarian attitudes. If utilitarian attitudes lead to market-oriented policies, multiple steady states arise where some countries sustain high utilitarianism, market-orientation, and economic growth, and vice versa. This perspective helps explain the intellectual history of the doux commerce thesis.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Language: English
Date: September 2016
Uncontrolled Keywords: Normative commitments, deontological value choices, other-regarding preferences, charitable donations, moral trolley problem
JEL Classification: B51 - Socialist; Marxian; Sraffian
C93 - Field Experiments
D63 - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
D64 - Altruism
J15 - Economics of Minorities and Races; Non-labor Discrimination
K00 - General
Divisions: TSE-R (Toulouse)
Institution: Université Toulouse Capitole
Site: UT1
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2016 08:19
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2021 13:36
OAI Identifier:
View Item


Downloads per month over past year