Is it harder for high-caste men to coordinate?

A new paper (pdf) by Benjamin A. Brooks, Karla Hoff, Priyanka Pandey runs at least one set of tests suggesting the answer is yes:

In an experiment in India, high-caste and low-caste men repeatedly played the Stag Hunt coordination game. This game has two equilibria, only one of which is efficient. Compared to low-caste men, high-caste men were significantly less likely to coordinate on the efficient equilibrium, and they were also 29 percentage points less likely to keep trying for efficient coordination after getting the “loser’s payoff”—the payoff to a player who attempts efficient coordination when his partner does not. We explain both findings in a model of learning where high-caste, but not low-caste men, see the loser’s payoff as an insult rather than an accident. These findings provide evidence that cultural construals can impede efficient coordination, which is a key component of economic development.

I find the distinction here between “low payoffs as insult” and “low payoffs as accident” to be especially interesting and in the broader literature underexplored.


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