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Culture, Institutions & the Long Divergence

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  • Alberto Bisin
  • Jared Rubin
  • Avner Seror
  • Thierry Verdier

Abstract

Recent theories of the Long Divergence between Middle Eastern and Western European economies focus on Middle Eastern (over-)reliance on religious legitimacy, use of slave soldiers, and persistence of restrictive proscriptions of religious (Islamic) law. These theories take as exogenous the cultural values that complement the prevailing institutions. As a result, they miss the role of cultural values in either supporting the persistence of or inducing change in the economic and institutional environment. In this paper, we address these issues by modeling the joint evolution of institutions and culture. In doing so, we place the various hypotheses of economic divergence into one, unifying framework. We highlight the role that cultural transmission plays in reinforcing institutional evolution toward either theocratic or secular states. We extend the model to shed light on political decentralization and technological change in the two regions.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Bisin & Jared Rubin & Avner Seror & Thierry Verdier, 2021. "Culture, Institutions & the Long Divergence," NBER Working Papers 28488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:28488
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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

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • 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

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