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Cultural and Institutional Bifurcation: China and Europe Compared


  • Avner Greif
  • Guido Tabellini


How to sustain cooperation is a key challenge for any society. Different social organizations have evolved in the course of history to cope with this challenge by relying on different combinations of external (formal and informal) enforcement institutions and intrinsic motivation. Some societies rely more on informal enforcement and moral obligations within their constituting groups. Others rely more on formal enforcement and general moral obligations towards society at large. How do culture and institutions interact in generating different evolutionary trajectories of societal organizations? Do contemporary attitudes, institutions and behavior reflect distinct pre-modern trajectories?
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Suggested Citation

  • Avner Greif & Guido Tabellini, 2010. "Cultural and Institutional Bifurcation: China and Europe Compared," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 135-140, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:2:p:135-40 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.2.135

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Guido Tabellini, 2008. "The Scope of Cooperation: Values and Incentives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 905-950.
    2. John Friedmann, 2007. "Reflections on Place and Place-making in the Cities of China," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(2), pages 257-279, June.
    3. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-950, October.
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    1. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 325-369, June.
    2. Marianna Belloc & Samuel Bowles, 2009. "International Trade, Factor Mobility and the Persistence of Cultural-Institutional Diversity," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2009-08, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    3. Kuzmina, Olga & Volchkova, Natalya & Zueva, Tatiana, 2014. "Foreign direct investment and governance quality in Russia," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 874-891.
    4. Maria BOBROVA & Arndt KÃœMPEL, 2010. "Reasoning On Evolution Of Culture And Structure," Journal of Applied Economic Sciences, Spiru Haret University, Faculty of Financial Management and Accounting Craiova, vol. 5(2(12)/Sum), pages 21-33.
    5. Giampaolo Lecce & Laura Ogliari & Tommaso Orlando, 2017. "Resistance to Institutions and Cultural Distance: Brigandage in Post-Unification Italy," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2097, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    6. Sascha O. Becker & Katrin Boeckh & Christa Hainz & Ludger Woessmann, 2016. "The Empire Is Dead, Long Live the Empire! Long‐Run Persistence of Trust and Corruption in the Bureaucracy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(590), pages 40-74, February.
    7. Shuo Chen & James Kung, 2016. "Of maize and men: the effect of a New World crop on population and economic growth in China," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 71-99, March.
    8. Rosta, Miklós, 2013. "New Public Management: opportunity for the Centre, thread for the Periphery," MPRA Paper 68474, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Farla, Kristine, 2012. "Institutions and credit," MERIT Working Papers 038, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    10. Yang, Guanzhong, 2017. "The impact of incentives on prosocial behavior: An experimental investigation with German and Chinese subjects," Working Papers on East Asian Studies 113/2017, University of Duisburg-Essen, Institute of East Asian Studies IN-EAST.
    11. Meier, Stephan & Pierce, Lamar & Vaccaro, Antonino & La Cara, Barbara, 2016. "Trust and in-group favoritism in a culture of crime," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 78-92.
    12. Masahiko Aoki, 2011. "The Five-Phases of Economic Development and Institutional Evolution in China and Japan," Development Economics Working Papers 23196, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    13. Richard W. Carney & Travers Barclay Child, 2015. "Business Networks and Crisis Performance: Professional, Political, and Family Ties," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 15-135/V, Tinbergen Institute, revised 20 Feb 2015.
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    15. James B. Ang, 2015. "Agricultural Legacy, Individualistic Culture, and Techology Adoption," Economic Growth Centre Working Paper Series 1506, Nanyang Technological University, School of Social Sciences, Economic Growth Centre.
    16. Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre, 2014. "Trust, Growth, and Well-Being: New Evidence and Policy Implications," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 2, pages 49-120 Elsevier.
    17. Melissa Dell & Nathaniel Lane & Pablo Querubin, 2017. "The Historical State, Local Collective Action, and Economic Development in Vietnam," NBER Working Papers 23208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Bobrova, Maria & Kümpel, Arndt, 2010. "Reflexive self-organization and path dependency in institutionalization processes," MPRA Paper 22465, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Kouvavas, Omiros, 2013. "Political Budget Cycles Revisited, the Case for Social Capital," MPRA Paper 57504, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Sep 2013.
    20. Scott E. Masten & Jens Prüfer, 2014. "On the Evolution of Collective Enforcement Institutions: Communities and Courts," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 359-400.
    21. Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten & Libman, Alexander & Yu, Xiaofan, 2014. "Economic integration in China: Politics and culture," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 470-492.
    22. Mustafa Caglayan & Alessandro Flamini & Babak Jahanshahi, 2017. "Organized Crime and Human Capital," DEM Working Papers Series 143, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Management.
    23. Ogilvie, Sheilagh & Carus, A.W., 2014. "Institutions and Economic Growth in Historical Perspective," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 8, pages 403-513 Elsevier.
    24. Tina He & Wilson Li & Gordon Tang, 2012. "Dividends Behavior in State- Versus Family-Controlled Firms: Evidence from Hong Kong," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 110(1), pages 97-112, September.
    25. Castañeda Dower, Paul & Markevich, Andrei, 2014. "A history of resistance to privatization in Russia," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 855-873.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • P30 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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