How do we choose our identity? A revealed preference approach using food consumption

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Abstract

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 responds to forces suggested by social identity research: group status and group salience. Moreover, identity choices respond to the cost of following the group’s prescribed behaviors. We propose and estimate a demand system to quantify the identity changes that followed India’s 1991 reforms. While social identity research has focused on status and salience, our results suggest that economic costs also play an important role.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1193-1251
Number of pages59
JournalJournal of Political Economy
Volume129
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

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