Past Event

Development Workshop: Pascaline Dupas

February 29, 2024
4:10 PM - 5:40 PM
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1101 IAB

As part of Columbia University's Spring 2024 Development Workshop, Pascaline Dupas will present "Keeping Up Appearances: An Experimental Investigation on Social Pressure and Relative Ranks" at the Development Seminar.


We investigate the potential welfare cost of relative rank considerations using a series of vignettes and lab-in-the-field experiments with over 2,000 individuals in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. We show that: (1) individuals judged to be of a lower rank are perceived as more likely to be victimized in many aspects of life; and (2) in response, individuals distort their appearance and consumption choices in order to appear of higher rank. These effects are strong and economically significant. As predicted by a simple signaling model, the distortion is larger for individuals with low (but not too low) SES.