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Coordination and Culture

Jean-Paul Carvalho

No 489, Economics Series Working Papers from University of Oxford, Department of Economics

Abstract: Culture constrains individual choice by making certain behaviour taboo. We propose an evolutionary model in which members of different groups attempt to coordinate over time. We show that cultural constraints can lead to a permanent break down in coordination between groups, even when coordination is attainable and Pareto-efficient. Hence restrictive cultures make coordination with out-group members more difficult. By limiting a person's options, however, highly restrictive cultures act as a strategic commitment, forcing out-group members to conform to in-group norms if they want to coordinate. In this way, cultural constraints on behaviour may lead to higher expected welfare. When people rationally choose their culture, we demonstrate that restrictive and permissive cultures can co-exist in the long run.

Keywords: Coordinatin games; Culture; Taboos; Commitments; Cultural evolution (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C72 C73 Z1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010-06-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cul, nep-evo, nep-gth and nep-soc
References: View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (7) Track citations by RSS feed

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