Monday, May 24, 2004

Three Hypotheses

Well done international cross-sectional comparisons (even better if via panels of data) are cropping up more and more often. There will be many more of these as the data improve. For the social sciences, this is the way to go. The influences of culture and policies can be more sharply identified if such studies are done well. Giuliano and Narayan recently did exactly that to show that UK and US personal travel choices are more similar than dissimilar.

Can it be that culture and politics take a back seat to people's preferences? That the latter are remarkably similar over the world? That markets everywhere respond and cater to these?

Visit the suburbs of European cities, not their touristy centers (Disneylands for adults). Absent better measures, consider that shopping,living and playing are much more similar than dissimilar.

One day we'll measure the extent of similarity. It is a good bet that the three hypotheses will stand up.