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The Role of Passionate Individuals in Economic Development

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  • Zakharenko, Roman

Abstract

In this paper, I merge two theories -- theory of "passionate individuals" by Gumilev(1989) and Memetics by Dawkins(1976) - to develop a formal growth theory that states that societies become more developed when their members have more intrinsic motivation to solve problems of social importance (i.e. make "cultural contributions"). Individuals derive utility from genetic fitness (i.e. the number of surviving children) as well as from cultural fitness, defined as the amount of appreciation ("honor") of one's cultural contribution by future generations. To make a cultural contribution, one must study/honor cultural contributions of the past, which leads to multiple steady states. In the survival steady state, individuals expect that no one in the future will be interested in their cultural contribution, which makes them allocate all energy onto maximization of genetic fitness and care little about cultural contributions of the past. In the passionate steady state, individuals expect high appreciation of their cultural contribution and thus spend a lot of energy onto making such a contribution, which makes them highly appreciate cultural contributions of the past. Empirical implications of theory are also discussed.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 28552.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:28552

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Keywords: passionate individuals; human values; poverty traps; memetics; economic growth;

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  1. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "History versus Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 651-67, May.
  2. Stark,Oded, 1999. "Altruism and Beyond," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521663731, 9.
  3. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1988. "Industrialization and the Big Push," NBER Working Papers 2708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1997. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," DELTA Working Papers 97-03, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  5. Guido Tabellini, 2007. "The Scope of Cooperation: values and incentives," Working Papers 328, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  6. Zakharenko, Roman, 2009. "Children Versus Ideas: an “Influential” Theory of Demographic Transition," MPRA Paper 17478, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Robson, Arthur J, 1992. "Status, the Distribution of Wealth, Private and Social Attitudes to Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 837-57, July.
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