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The Emergence of Institutions

Santiago Sánchez-Pagés () and Stephane Straub ()

The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 2010, vol. 10, issue 1, 1-38

Abstract: This paper analyses how institutions aimed at coordinating economic interactions may emerge. Starting from a hypothetical state of nature, agents can delegate the task of enforcing cooperation to one of them in exchange for a proper compensation. Both individual and collective commitment problems stand in the way of institution formation. These problems imply first that a potentially efficient institution may fail to emerge and also that if it emerges, it may do so inefficiently. We show that big and untrustworthy societies are more likely to support institutions whereas their emergence is more difficult in small and trusting societies, but if institutions do emerge, they tend to be more inefficient in the former type of societies. Finally, we show that the threat of secession by a subset of agents may alleviate the latter problem.

Date: 2010
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Working Paper: The Emergence of Institutions (2008) Downloads
Working Paper: The Emergence of Institutions (2006) Downloads
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