Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

The Relation between Worldviews and Intergenerational Altruism in Turkey: An Empirical Approach

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

The Relation between Worldviews and Intergenerational Altruism in Turkey: An Empirical Approach

Article excerpt

Introduction

Recently, there has been a surge of interest in the impact of culture on economic outcomes1. Granovetter showed that economic action is embedded in social relations and criticized neoclassical economics' view of "utilitarianist, atomized, and undersocialized individual."2 In addition, the role of psychological factors in individuals' economic behavior has also been ignored and neoclassical economics reduced economic behavior to formal presentations of utility maximization without emotions and social relations. Recent papers3 showed that early economists during the 19th century and early 20th century often used culture to explain economic phenomena, such as variations in economic growth and saving rates across nations, and admitted the importance of psychological motives to explain intertemporal choice. Marx argued that economic relations and economic transformation create and change culture, including religion. Weber argued against the direction of this causal relationship and asserted that religion can explain the development of social and cultural changes, such as the rise of capitalism. Starting from the famous economist Paul Samuelson's "discounted utility model" in 1937, in which motives underlying intertemporal choice boil down to a single parameter, the discount rate, neoclassical economics mostly abstained from using culture and psychology to explain economic outcomes. This was mainly due to problems about measuring culture.

Economic behavior in the neoclassical paradigm is based on a naturalistic, rational, and selfish homo economicus who engages with the pursuit of her self-interest only for the purpose of utility maximization. This view of economic behavior has been criticized in recent survey and experimental studies.4 Among the most well-known of such studies, Henrich et al.5 found strong evidence from economic experiments in 12 countries and 15 small-scale societies that fairness and reciprocity are important concerns. In addition, they showed that social interactions matter and pro-social behavior dominates; people tend to reward cooperative behavior and punish non-cooperative behavior even when it is costly. Two recent papers have also provided evidence for the importance of fairness to explain economic behavior.6

As a reflection of the interest in the abovementioned issues surrounding the neoclassical view of economic behavior, recent studies have included various dimensions of culture, such as trust and religiosity, to explain economic phenomena. Culture is generally defined as slowchanging values, beliefs, social norms, and other factors that affect behavior which are transferred across successive generations.7 Some recent papers revived classical economists' interest and provided evidence that culture affects a variety of economic outcomes. Guiso et al. showed that culture and cultural hypotheses are important variables in cross-country variation in savings, investments, and bequests.8 They cite from previous studies that economic behavior of American families is largely affected by the cultural heritage of the immigrant ancestors' country of origin, and Catholic families are more likely to teach thrift to their children than Protestant families. In addition, a growing body of research has shown that culture affects economic outcomes through its impact on institutions. Such studies generally focus on historical evidence and emphasize the important role social capital plays in economic development.9

The impact of religion as an important dimension of the link between culture and economic outcomes is an important issue and it has been subject to academic scrutiny by economists recently. Religious beliefs have been used in some recent studies as explanatory variables in analyzing the correlation between religion and economic outcomes such as savings, investments, and bequests. In an early economic model of religious behavior, the individual maximizes utility which is defined as a function of religious commodities and secular commodities. …

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