Intergenerational sustainability and the degree of capitalism in societies: A field experiment

Shahrier, Shibly (2016). 'Intergenerational sustainability and the degree of capitalism in societies: A field experiment' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

topics: Intergenerational Equity, Policy and Politics, Collective Capabilities

abstract: Abstract Maintaining intergenerational sustainability is essential for the existence of human society in this earth and it is one of the biggest challenge for the current human society. To preserve intergenerational sustainability, it is fundamental to analyze what determines human preference of intergenerational sustainability. We hypothesize that highly capitalistic and competitive societies endanger intergenerational sustainability. To analyze this hypothesis, we design and implement an intergenerational sustainability game with “priming future” as a policy tool in the two types of fields (i) urban and (ii) rural areas in Bangladesh. We find that people from rural areas tend to choose more intergenerational sustainability than people from urban areas, and the likelihood of choosing intergenerational sustainable options significantly increases with the number of pro-social people in a generation. A relatively weaker but positive effect of priming future has been found for maintaining intergenerational sustainability. Our findings suggest that as society becomes more capitalistic, intergenerational sustainability tend to be more threatened. Even though priming future works dimly in our experiment, some policy devices like priming future is necessary to maintain intergenerational sustainability in highly capitalistic societies. 

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