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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


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
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Ben Deaner, Omer Karaduman, and Sumit Shinde for excellent research assistance. David Atkin thanks the Stanford Economics Department and Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research for their hospitality while writing this paper. Moses Shayo thanks the I-Core Program at the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1821/12) and the Falk Institute for financial support. We thank Roland Benabou, Jon Eguia, Armin Falk, David Genesove, Marco Gonzalez-Navarro, Matthew Gentzkow, Ori Heffetz, Supreet Kaur, David Laitin, Edward Lazear, Shabana Mitra, Sharun Mukand, Salvatore Nunnari, Ran Shorrer, Katia Zhuravskaya, the editors, four anonymous referees, and many seminar participants for valuable comments. Data are provided as supplementary material online.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'How do we choose our identity? A revealed preference approach using food consumption'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this