An Inquiry into the Relationship between Intelligence and Prosocial Behavior: Evidence from Swedish Population Registers

54 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2022

See all articles by Mikael Elinder

Mikael Elinder

Uppsala University - Department of Economics; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Oscar Erixson

Uppsala University - Department of Economics; Research Institute of Industrial Economics

Date Written: February 18, 2022

Abstract

We characterize the relationships between intelligence and prosocial behaviors by using administrative data on cognitive ability, charitable giving, voting, and possession of eco-friendly cars for 1.2 million Swedish men, and a sample of women (~3,000). We find strong positive associations with all three behaviors, and they remain strong when using within-twin pair variation in cognitive ability to account for plausible confounders. Moreover, we find that among several dimensions of intelligence, general intelligence is the strongest predictor of prosocial behavior. Mediators, such as income, education, and family, play only a minor role, and the positive relationships are mirrored in altruistic preferences.

Keywords: Cognitive ability, altruism, voting, environment, charity

JEL Classification: D64

Suggested Citation

Elinder, Mikael and Erixson, Oscar and Erixson, Oscar, An Inquiry into the Relationship between Intelligence and Prosocial Behavior: Evidence from Swedish Population Registers (February 18, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4038027 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4038027

Mikael Elinder (Contact Author)

Uppsala University - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 513
Uppsala, 751 20
Sweden

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Oscar Erixson

Uppsala University - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 513
SE-75120 Uppsala
Sweden

Research Institute of Industrial Economics ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden
+46(0)704676110 (Phone)

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