An Inquiry into the Relationship between Intelligence and Prosocial Behavior: Evidence from Swedish Population Registers
54 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2022
Date Written: February 18, 2022
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
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