Herding, Warfare, and a Culture of Honor: Global Evidence

67 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2021 Last revised: 19 May 2022

See all articles by Yiming Cao

Yiming Cao

Boston University

Benjamin Enke

Harvard University

Armin Falk

University of Bonn - Economic Science Area; briq - Institute on Behavior & Inequality

Paola Giuliano

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Nathan Nunn

Harvard University - Department of Economics

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Abstract

According to the widely known 'culture of honor' hypothesis from social psychology, traditional herding practices are believed to have generated a value system that is conducive to revenge-taking and violence. We test this idea at a global scale using a combination of ethnographic records, historical folklore information, global data on contemporary conflict events, and large-scale surveys. The data show systematic links between traditional herding practices and a culture of honor. First, the culture of pre-industrial societies that relied on animal herding emphasizes violence, punishment, and revenge-taking. Second, contemporary ethnolinguistic groups that historically subsisted more strongly on herding have more frequent and severe conflict today. Third, the contemporary descendants of herders report being more willing to take revenge and punish unfair behavior in the globally representative Global Preferences Survey. In all, the evidence supports the idea that this form of economic subsistence generated a functional psychology that has persisted until today and plays a role in shaping conflict across the globe.

Keywords: culture of honor, conflict, punishment, revenge

JEL Classification: N0, Z1

Suggested Citation

Cao, Yiming and Enke, Benjamin and Falk, Armin and Giuliano, Paola and Nunn, Nathan, Herding, Warfare, and a Culture of Honor: Global Evidence. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14738, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3934755

Yiming Cao (Contact Author)

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Benjamin Enke

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Armin Falk

University of Bonn - Economic Science Area ( email )

briq - Institute on Behavior & Inequality

Schaumburg-Lippe-Stra├če 5-9
Bonn, 53113
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.briq-institute.org/

Paola Giuliano

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
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

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Nathan Nunn

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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