It is well established in the empirical literature that people care about relative status or positionality. Hence, any policy that makes someone better off imposes a negative externality on their peers. However, the effectiveness of public policy aimed at mitigating positional externality hinges on the drivers of relative concerns, which are individual and context-specific, requiring empirical analysis. This study investigates positional concerns of individuals in artisanal fishing communities in a developing country where the men go on fishing expeditions and the women process and sell the catch, and the specific role of welfare sensitivity in moderating relative concerns. The contexts are formulated as management policies relating to the specific gender roles in fishing. We found that compared to the women, the men were more positional, on average, and relative concerns are context-dependent for both genders. Next, the men had lower welfare sensitivity than the women. For both groups and in a specific context, being welfare-sensitive over a narrow (broader) income range correlates with a relatively higher (lower) degree of positionality.
Akpalu, W., Eggert, H., & Adanu, K. (2024). Context, welfare sensitivity, and positional preferences among fisherfolks in a developing country. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 108, 102149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socec.2023.102149