"The Moral and Social Dimensions of Microeconomic
Behavior in Low-Income Communitieis"

Project Leader: Christopher B. Barrett
Associate Professor Department of Applied Economics & Management
Cornell University


In recent years there has been much interest and notable advances in understanding the role of identity, conformity, generalized morality, and other such moral and social dimensions of individuals and their behaviors. These advances not withstanding, virtually all of contemporary research in economics rests fundamentally on a microeconomic theory of human behavior as motivated by the satisfaction of material wants and a positivist tradition dominates discourse. As a result, current economic theory is ill equipped to understand how individuals perceive and adapt their identities and how these identities affect their consumption, production and exchange behaviors. The economics team project will explore the role of nonmaterial preferences, and constraints-- including social norm, altruism, duty, trust, fidelity, solidarity, identity--on behavior aiming or on behalf of poor sub-populations seemingly in need of material advancement.

Team members will ask questions such as, but not limited to the following:

Three core topics will guide the team's research:

For further details about this economics project
and a list of Team Members, visit http://www.afsnrm.aem.cornell.edu/pew/