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The Role of Passionate Individuals in Economic Development

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  • Zakharenko, Roman

Abstract

In this paper, I merge two theories -- theory of "passionate individuals" by Gumilev(1989) and Memetics by Dawkins(1976) - to develop a formal growth theory that states that societies become more developed when their members have more intrinsic motivation to solve problems of social importance (i.e. make "cultural contributions"). Individuals derive utility from genetic fitness (i.e. the number of surviving children) as well as from cultural fitness, defined as the amount of appreciation ("honor") of one's cultural contribution by future generations. To make a cultural contribution, one must study/honor cultural contributions of the past, which leads to multiple steady states. In the survival steady state, individuals expect that no one in the future will be interested in their cultural contribution, which makes them allocate all energy onto maximization of genetic fitness and care little about cultural contributions of the past. In the passionate steady state, individuals expect high appreciation of their cultural contribution and thus spend a lot of energy onto making such a contribution, which makes them highly appreciate cultural contributions of the past. Empirical implications of theory are also discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Zakharenko, Roman, 2011. "The Role of Passionate Individuals in Economic Development," MPRA Paper 28552, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:28552
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/28552/1/MPRA_paper_28552.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robson, Arthur J, 1992. "Status, the Distribution of Wealth, Private and Social Attitudes to Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 837-857, July.
    2. Zakharenko, Roman, 2009. "Children Versus Ideas: an “Influential” Theory of Demographic Transition," MPRA Paper 17478, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Guido Tabellini, 2008. "The Scope of Cooperation: Values and Incentives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 905-950.
    4. Paul Krugman, 1991. "History versus Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 651-667.
    5. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1989. "Industrialization and the Big Push," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1003-1026, October.
    6. Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2001. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 298-319, April.
    7. Stark,Oded, 1999. "Altruism and Beyond," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521663731, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Roman Zakharenko, 2016. "Endogenous growth and demographic transition in a model of cultural transmission," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 26(5), pages 953-970, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    passionate individuals; human values; poverty traps; memetics; economic growth;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O49 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Other
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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