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Culture, Institutions & the Long Divergence

Author

Listed:
  • Alberto Bisin

    (NYU, NBER, and CEPR)

  • Jared Rubin

    (Chapman University)

  • Avner Seror

    (Aix-Marseille School of Economics)

  • Thierry Verdier

    (PSE, Ecole des Ponts-Paris Tech, PUC-Rio, and CEPR)

Abstract

During the medieval and early modern periods the Middle East lost its economic advantage relative to the West. Recent explanations of this historical phenomenon— called the Long Divergence—focus on these regions’ distinct political economy choices regarding religious legitimacy and limited governance. We study these features in a political economy model of the interactions between rulers, secular and clerical elites, and civil society. The model induces a joint evolution of culture and political institutions converging to one of two distinct stationary states: a religious and a secular regime. We then map qualitatively parameters and initial conditions characterizing the West and the Middle East into the implied model dynamics to show that they are consistent with the Long Divergence as well as with several key stylized political and economic facts. Most notably, this mapping suggests non-monotonic political economy dynamics in both regions, in terms of legitimacy and limited governance, which indeed characterize their history.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Bisin & Jared Rubin & Avner Seror & Thierry Verdier, 2021. "Culture, Institutions & the Long Divergence," Working Papers 21-04, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:21-04
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Francesco Cinnirella & Alireza Naghavi & Giovanni Prarolo, 2023. "Islam and human capital in historical Spain," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 28(2), pages 225-257, June.
    3. Iyigun, Murat & Rubin, Jared & Seror, Avner, 2021. "A theory of cultural revivals," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 135(C).
    4. Avner Seror, 2021. "Social Roles," Working Papers halshs-03234653, HAL.
    5. Mehmood, Sultan & Seror, Avner, 2023. "Religious leaders and rule of law," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 160(C).
    6. Binzel, Christine & Link, Andreas & Ramachandran, Rajesh, 2021. "Language, Knowledge, and Growth: Evidence from Early Modern Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 15454, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Wu, Jiabin, 2023. "Institutions, assortative matching and cultural evolution," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Long Divergence; cultural transmission; institutions; legitimacy; religion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • P16 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Capitalist Economies - - - Capitalist Institutions; Welfare State
    • P48 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N35 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Asia including Middle East
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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