Gör marknader människor omoraliska?

Många kritiker av marknadsekonomi tycks övertygade om att dess mekanismer underminerar gott beteende människor emellan. (För en översikt av argument av detta slag, se här.) Istället för medmänsklighet och omtanke göder jakten på gynnsamma transaktioner till själviskhet och opportunism, tror de. Mot den bakgrunden är det intressant att notera att det finns forskning som tyder på motsatsen. Fem exempel ges nedan.

  1. ”‘Economic Man’ in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies”: ”[G]roup-level differences in economic organization and the structure of social interactions explain a substantial portion of the behavioral variation across societies: the higher the degree of market integration and the higher the payoffs to cooperation in everyday life, the greater the level of prosociality expressed in experimental games.”
  2. ”Mean Markets or Kind Commerce?”: ”While many have suggested that market interactions make people more selfish, our reciprocity-based theory allows that market interaction on the contrary induces more prosociality. Our experiment provides a test of the empirical relevance of such an effect, in some highly stylized settings. The results are broadly (but not completely) supportive.”
  3. ”Market Exposure and Human Morality”: ”[A] society’s degree of market interactions, proxied by the presence of intercommunity trade and money, is associated with the cultural salience of (1) prosocial behaviour, (2) interpersonal trust, (3) universalist moral values and (4) moral emotions of guilt, shame and anger. To provide tentative evidence that a part of this correlation reflects a causal effect of market interactions, the analysis leverages both fine-grained geographic variation across neighbouring historical societies and plausibly exogenous variation in the presence of markets that arises through proximity to historical trade routes or the local degree of ecological diversity. The results suggest that the coevolutionary process involving markets and morality partly consists of economic markets shaping a moral system of a universalist and internalized prosociality.”
  4. ”Market Participation and Moral Decision-Making: Experimental Evidence from Greenland”: ”[W]e document a robust positive association between market participation and moral behaviour towards anonymous others. … [M]arket-integrated participants display universalism in moral decision-making, whereas non-market participants make more moral decisions towards co-villagers.”
  5. ”The Moral Costs of Markets: Testing the Deterioration Hypothesis”: ”Markets may crowd out or even corrupt existing moral values, causing moral deterioration. We test this hypothesis using both fixed effects and matching methods to estimate the impact of market institutions on a society’s moral values. Contrary to the deterioration hypothesis, we find that market-oriented societies have a greater aversion to unethical behavior, higher levels of trust, and are not significantly associated with lower levels of morality under any model specification.”

Därmed förstås inte sagt att alla inslag i en marknadsekonomi reflekterar eller stimulerar moraliskt beteende – inte minst torde det vara viktigt att marknadstransaktioner sker inom ramen för en effektiv och rättvis rättsstat – men det verkar finnas något grundläggande positivt med ett system där människor leds att samarbeta med (ofta okända) andra, även om utgångspunkten är egen vinning.