Why do some societies have political institutions that support productively inefficient outcomes? And why does the political power of elites vested in these outcomes often grow over time, even when they are unable to block more efficient modes of production? We propose an explanation centered on the interplay between political and cultural change. We build a model in which cultural values are transmitted inter-generationally. The cultural composition of society, in turn, determines public good provision as well as the future political power of elites from different cultural groups. We characterize the equilibrium of the model and provide sufficient conditions for the emergence of cultural revivals. These are characterized as movements in which both the cultural composition of society as well as the political power of elites who are vested in productively inefficient outcomes grow over time. We reveal the usefulness of our framework by applying it to two case studies: the Jim Crow South and Turkey's Gülen Movement.
Iyigun, M., Rubin, J., & Seror, A. (2018). A theory of cultural revivals. ESI Working Paper 18-14. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/esi_working_papers/252
Working Paper 18-14
Formerly known as "A Theory of Conservative Revivals".
This paper later underwent peer review and was published as:
Iyigun, M., Rubin, J., & Seror, A. (2018). A theory of cultural revivals. European Economic Review, 135: 103734. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroecorev.2021.103734