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Political institutions and the evolution of character traits

Jiabin Wu ()

Games and Economic Behavior, 2017, vol. 106, issue C, 260-276

Abstract: This paper argues that political institutions play an important role in influencing the evolution of character traits. We consider a population with two groups each with different character traits. A political institution provides the platform and a set of rules for the two groups to battle over the relative representativeness of their traits for the high positions in the social hierarchy. This political process affects the economic outcomes of the two groups and, subsequently their character traits evolve. We study how conducive different political institutions are to spreading character traits that induce better economic outcomes. Under “exclusive” political institutions, any trait can be prevalent. Therefore, a society can be trapped in a state in which traits associated with unfavorable economic outcomes persist. Under “inclusive” political institutions, evolution has stronger selection power. Only traits that result in the largest comparative advantage in terms of holding a high position can be prevalent.

Keywords: Evolution of character traits; Political institutions; Evolutionary game theory (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C7 D7 Z1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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