Does native country turmoil predict immigrant workers’ honesty in markets?

Thomas D. Shohfi, Roger M. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Does the onset of violent turmoil in an immigrant's country of origin affect their honesty in economic exchange? We test this question using Egyptian cab drivers in New York City. Native country turmoil could increase demand for remittances or spur anger or anxiety, which could boost cheating, as both financial pressures and anti-social emotions predict self-dealing. Alternatively, native country turmoil could induce prosocial, other-regarding emotions like empathy, gratitude, and compassion among immigrant workers who are both glad to be in safer surroundings and hoping for the safety of loved ones in their native country. These prosocial emotions predict prosocial behavior and less cheating in exchange. We find support for this latter prediction. In the immediate aftermath of Egypt's 2013 coup, a period of considerable political turmoil and violence in Egypt, our difference-in-differences tests suggest that the incidence of Egyptian cab drivers in New York City cheating customers drops by about half.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-164
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Anxiety
  • Cheating
  • Fraud
  • Gratitude
  • Immigrant worker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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