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The construction of national identities


  • Almagro, Milena

    () (Department of Economics, New York University)

  • Andrés-Cerezo, David

    () (Department of Economics, European University Institute)


This paper explores the dynamics of nation-building policies and the conditions under which a state can promote a shared national identity on its territory. A forward-looking central government that internalizes identity dynamics shapes them by choosing the level of state centralization. Homogenization attempts are constrained by political unrest, electoral competition and the intergenerational transmission of identities within the family. We find nation-building efforts are generally characterized by fast interventions. We show that a zero-sum conflict over resources pushes long-run dynamics toward homogeneous steady states and extreme levels of (de)centralization. We also find the ability to foster a common identity is highly dependent on initial conditions, and that country-specific historical factors can have a lasting impact on the long-run distribution of identities.

Suggested Citation

  • Almagro, Milena & Andrés-Cerezo, David, 0. "The construction of national identities," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:the:publsh:3040

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    More about this item


    Cultural evolution; nation-building; national identity; cultural leader; optimal control; political economy; decentralization;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Modern Monetary Theory;
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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