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The Ideological Roots of Institutional Change

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  • Iyigun, Murat

    (University of Colorado, Boulder)

  • Rubin, Jared

    (Chapman University)

Abstract

Why do some societies fail to adopt more efficient institutions in response to changing economic conditions? And why do such conditions sometimes generate ideological backlashes and at other times lead to transformative sociopolitical movements? We propose an explanation that highlights the interplay – or lack thereof – between new technologies, ideologies, and institutions. When new technologies emerge, uncertainty results from a lack of understanding how the technology will fit with prevailing ideologies and institutions. This uncertainty discourages investment in institutions and the cultural capital necessary to take advantage of new technologies. Accordingly, increased uncertainty during times of rapid technological change may generate an ideological backlash that puts a higher premium on traditional values. We apply the theory to numerous historical episodes, including Ottoman reform initiatives, the Japanese Tokugawa reforms and Meiji Restoration, and the Tongzhi Restoration in Qing China.

Suggested Citation

  • Iyigun, Murat & Rubin, Jared, 2017. "The Ideological Roots of Institutional Change," IZA Discussion Papers 10703, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10703
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    Cited by:

    1. Karaja, Elira & Rubin, Jared, 2022. "Θ The cultural transmission of trust norms: Evidence from a lab in the field on a natural experiment," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 1-19.
    2. Iyigun, Murat & Rubin, Jared & Seror, Avner, 2021. "A theory of cultural revivals," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 135(C).
    3. Paola Giuliano & Nathan Nunn, 2021. "Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change [Cultural Assimilation During the Age of Mass Migration]," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(4), pages 1541-1581.
    4. Koyama, Mark & Moriguchi, Chiaki & Sng, Tuan-Hwee, 2018. "Geopolitics and Asia’s little divergence: State building in China and Japan after 1850," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 178-204.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    ideology; institutions; conservatism; beliefs; uncertainty; institutional change; technological change;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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