Animal spirits: The natural geography of economic behavior
Speaker: Toman Barsbai (University of St Andrews)
Which role does geography play in explaining the large variation in human behavior and preferences across the globe? To identify the direct effect of geography, we use insights from behavioral ecology and propose the behavior of wild animals as an exogenous measure of geography-induced behavior. We construct a global grid-cell database of average animal behavior and analyze the spatial correlation between animal and human behavior in three important economic domains: future orientation, migration, and gender roles. Animal behavior significantly predicts human behavior in all three domains. The spatial correlation holds for hunter-gatherer and modern societies (across and within countries) and also extends to second-generation immigrants. Our results suggest that geography has had a direct and persistent effect on human preferences.