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Us and `Them': the origin of identity, and its economic implications

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  • B. Curtis Eaton
  • Mukesh Eswaran
  • Robert J. Oxoby

Abstract

We investigate the origins of identity and the innate proclivity to draw a distinction between `insiders' and `outsiders'. We propose an evolutionary explanation: we argue that identity arises because it facilitates survival. In an evolutionary setting we endogenize preferences and demonstrate that the evolutionarily stable preferences fashioned by natural selection would distinguish between insiders and outsiders. We then work out the implications of such preferences in two contemporary scenarios, one entailing rent-seeking behaviour and the other involving public good provision. Our results are in conformity with empirical evidence.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Canadian Economics Association in its journal Canadian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 44 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 719-748

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Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:44:y:2011:i:3:p:719-748

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Cited by:
  1. Ingela Alger, 2010. "Public Goods Games, Altruism, and Evolution," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 12(4), pages 789-813, 08.
  2. Changxia Ke & Kai A. Konrad & Florian Morath, 2012. "Alliances in the Shadow of Conflict," Working Papers alliances_in_the_shadow_o, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
  3. Alberto Bisin & Eleonora Patacchini & Thierry Verdier & Yves Zenou, 2010. "Bend It Like Beckham: Ethnic Identity and Integration," NBER Working Papers 16465, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2013. "Evolutionary determinants of war," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2013-302, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  5. Costard, Jano & Bolle, Friedel, 2011. "Solidarity, responsibility and group identity," Discussion Papers 309, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Department of Business Administration and Economics.
  6. Kenneth Harttgen & Matthias Opfinger, 2012. "National Identity and Religious Diversity," Research Papers in Economics 2012-07, University of Trier, Department of Economics.
  7. Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2012. "Evolutionarily stable in-group favoritism and out-group spite in intergroup conflict," Munich Reprints in Economics 13963, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  8. Herbst, Luisa & Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2013. "Endogenous group formation in experimental contests," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 419, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  9. Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2013. "Evolutionary determinants of war," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 418, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  10. Herbst, Luisa & Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2013. "Endogenous group formation in experimental contests," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2013-301, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  11. Ke, Changxia & Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2013. "Alliances in the Shadow of Conflict," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 420, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  12. Bolle, Friedel & Costard, Jano, 2013. "Who shows solidarity with the irresponsible?," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2013-308, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  13. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2010. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and Socialization," NBER Working Papers 16512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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