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International Futures Help System

Roots of Culture: Beliefs and Values

IFs computes change in three cultural dimensions identified by the World Values Survey (Inglehart 1997). Those are dimensions of materialism/post-materialism (MATPOSTR), survival/self-expression (SURVSE), and traditional/secular-rational values (TRADSRAT). On each dimension the process for calculation is somewhat more complicated than for freedom or gender empowerment, however, because the dynamics for change in the cultural dimensions involves the aging of population cohorts. IFs uses the six population cohorts of the World Values Survey (1= 18-24; 2=25-34; 3=35-44; 4=45-54; 5=55-64; 6=65+). It calculates change in the value orientation of the youngest cohort (c=1) from change in GDP per capita at PPP (GDPPCP), but then maintains that value orientation for the cohort and all others as they age. Analysis of different functional forms led to use of an exponential form with GDP per capita for materialism/postmaterialism and to use of logarithmic forms for the two other cultural dimensions (both of which can take on negative values).

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The user can influence values on each of the cultural dimensions via two parameters. The first is a cultural shift factor (e.g. CultSHMP) that affects all of the IFs countries/regions in a given cultural region as defined by the World Value Survey. Those factors have initial values assigned to them from empirical analysis of how the regions differ on the cultural dimensions (determined by the pre-processor of raw country data in IFs), but the user can change those further, as desired. The second parameter is an additive factor specific to individual IFs countries/regions (e.g. matpostradd). The default values for the additive factors are zero.

Some users of IFs may not wish to assume that aging cohorts carry their value orientations forward in time, but rather want to compute the cultural orientation of cohorts directly from cross-sectional relationships. Those relationships have been calculated for each cohort to make such an approach possible. The parameter (wvsagesw) controls the dynamics associated with the value orientation of cohorts in the model. The standard value for it is 2, which results in the "aging" of value orientations. Any other value for wvsagesw (the WVS aging switch) will result in use of the cohort-specific functions with GDP per capita.

Regardless of which approach to value-change dynamics is used, IFs calculates the value orientation for a total region/country as a population cohort-weighted average.

Although we have explored the forward linkages of value change to other variables, including democracy, the IFs project has not given either the forecasting of value/culture change nor the impacts of it the attention they deserve. This is a great opportunity for creative thinking and modeling in the future.