Current Institutional Affiliation
Head of Safety, Risk, and Compliance, Behavioral Economist, Uber Japan

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Assistant Professor, School of Global Studies, Arizona State University
An International Comparative Study of Relationship between Economic Growth and Incentives to Work, Save and Redistribute

Do preferences cause economic growth, or does economic growth shape preferences? What motivate people to work and save? A fundamental question in economic development is the extent economic success of a country is linked to basic features of preferences in its population. If people are more motivated to work and save, it’s likely that the country will succeed to grow. Conversely, if the economic growth is once accelerated, people who were not motivated to work or save may become motivated, thinking they have bright futures waiting for them. However, once countries achieve a certain level of economic maturity, the incentives to work and save seem to diminish. The saving rate has declined dramatically in the United States in recent years. Many young people in Japan have lost their incentives to find jobs. Are these problems common in other developed countries? If so, how can we revive the motivations to work and save in these mature economies? Or does each developed country face different types of problems? If so, what determine the difference? How does the motivation to work and save correlate with the stage of economic development? Do countries follow different paths? Or is there a universal trend in the relationship between fundamental values and economic growth? By combining the World Values Survey data collected in 93 countries between 1981 and 2008 and economic statistics, we first investigate the relationship between economic growth and motivations to work, save and redistribute income across different generations within countries as well as across countries at different development stages. We also plan to test “the Weber thesis.” In his book “the Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” Max Weber claims Protestant ethics, namely frugality, hard work and thrift, is a driving force behind capitalism. We examine how these values change across generations and across countries of different economic stages, and test the promise of his hypothesis. In the second part of this project, we will design and conduct surveys in Japan and the United States and focus on more specific problems policy makers face in these countries. We are particularly interested in finding determining factors of undersaving among American and the lack of incentives to find jobs among Japanese youth.