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Political Identity: Experimental Evidence on Anti-Americanism in Pakistan

Sep 2017
Working Paper
Leonardo Bursztyn, Michael Callen, Bruno Ferman, Saad Gulzar, Ali Hasanain, Noam Yuchtman

We identify Pakistani men's willingness to pay to preserve their anti-American identity using an experiment imposing clearly-specified financial costs on anti-American expression, with minimal consequential or social considerations. Around one-quarter of subjects forgo payments from the U.S. government worth around one-fifth of a day's wage to avoid an identity-threatening choice: anonymously checking a box indicating gratitude toward the U.S. government. When subjects anticipate that rejection will be observable, rejection falls, suggesting that pressure to conform outweighs the need to publicly signal one's identity. A second experiment correlates rejection of the U.S. payment with membership in Pakistan's major anti-American political party.

Geographic Regions: 
Middle East