Nadia von Jacobi, University of Trento, and Stefan Voigt, University of Hamburg

Séminaire académique La Chaire Recherche

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A 411, Université Paris-Dauphine PSL

Folklore, moral foundations, and their economic consequences - paper project by Mahdi Khesali, Stefan Voigt and Nadia von Jacobi

Presentation by Stefan Voigt and Nadia von Jacobi :

It is often maintained that values, norms and moral systems have important effects on the long-term economic performance of societies. Values and norms are complementary to other (formal) institutional elements and therefore affect institutional quality and development, which is itself crucial for economic growth. Further, most values, norms and moral systems are expected to be largely time invariant as they tend to be transmitted from one generation to the next. Yet, empirical evidence supporting that claim has been virtually non-existent, also because a reliable source for historically held values and norms would be necessary. This study is a first step to change that. Since folktales, such as legends and fairy tales, are often transmitted virtually unchanged from generation to generation, we rely on them to extract information about the moral foundations held dear by different societies in the past. On the basis of some 15,000 folktales from more than 100 countries, we show not only that there were important differences in the moral foundations promoted via folktales in different historical societies but also that these moral foundations are good predictors for contemporaneous differences.

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