UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Devesh Rustagi, Goethe University

Waiting for Napoleon? Historical Democracy and Norms of Cooperation

Date and Location

Tuesday, November 27, 2018, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Library Conference Room, 4101 Social Sciences and Humanities


I use a natural experiment to study the long-run effect of historical democracy on norms of cooperation today. In the Middle Ages, the extinction of a prominent dynasty from the absence of an heir resulted in some Swiss municipalities acquiring historical democracy, but the others remained largely under feudalism until Napoleon intervened. Using data from behavioral experiment and Swiss Household Panel, I show that individuals from municipalities with historical democracy display twice the propensity for cooperation than individuals from municipalities without. These differences persist due to economic prosperity, cultural transmission and better functioning of democratic institutions.

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