Department of Economics
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Jerusalem 91905, Israel
Institutional Affiliation: Hebrew University
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|March 2019||How Do We Choose Our Identity? A Revealed Preference Approach Using Food Consumption|
with David Atkin, Moses Shayo: w25693
Are identities fungible? How do people come to identify with specific groups? This paper proposes a revealed preference approach, using food consumption to uncover ethnic and religious identity choices in India. We first show that consumption of identity goods (e.g. beef and pork) systematically responds to forces suggested by social-identity research: group status and group salience, with the latter proxied by inter-group conflict. Moreover, identity choices respond to the cost of following the group's prescribed behaviors. We propose and estimate a modified demand system to quantify the identity changes that followed India's 1991 economic reforms. While social-identity research has focused on status and salience, economic costs appear to play a dominant role.