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Merit, approbation and the evolution of social structure

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  • Cowan, Robin
  • Jonard, Nicolas

Abstract

We examine a society in which individuals gain utility from income and social approbation. Approbation is given to an unobservable trait, signalled through social mobility. Two environments are studied: in one players care for absolute approbation; in the other relative approbation matters. In both environments, individuals' quest for approbation both affects and is affected by social structure. We study the long run implications of that interaction on social organization. Various forms of dynasties and meritocracies are possible. Even though social mobility is driven purely by meritocratic principles, pure dynasties can emerge.

Suggested Citation

  • Cowan, Robin & Jonard, Nicolas, 2007. "Merit, approbation and the evolution of social structure," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(3-4), pages 295-315.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:64:y:2007:i:3-4:p:295-315
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    Cited by:

    1. Tacsir, Ezequiel, 2010. "Occupation Choice: Family, Social and Market Influences," MERIT Working Papers 013, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

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