How Do We Choose Our Identity? A Revealed Preference Approach Using Food Consumption

46 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019

See all articles by David Atkin

David Atkin

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)

Eve Colson-Sihra

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics

Moses Shayo

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2019

Abstract

Are identities fungible? How do people come to identify with specific groups? This paper proposes a revealed preference approach, using food consumption to uncover ethnic and religious identity choices in India. We first show that consumption of identity goods (e.g. beef and pork) systematically responds to forces suggested by social-identity research: group status and group salience, with the latter proxied by inter-group conflict. Moreover, identity choices respond to the cost of following the group's prescribed behaviors. We propose and estimate a modified demand system to quantify the identity changes that followed India's 1991 economic reforms. While social-identity research has focused on status and salience, economic costs appear to play a dominant role.

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Suggested Citation

Atkin, David G. and Colson-Sihra, Eve and Shayo, Moses, How Do We Choose Our Identity? A Revealed Preference Approach Using Food Consumption (March 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25693. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3363429

David G. Atkin (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
E52-391
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) ( email )

Duke University
Durham, NC 90097
United States

Eve Colson-Sihra

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Jerusalem
Israel

Moses Shayo

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, IL Jerusalem 91905
Israel

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