Culture and Institutions

60 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2008  

Guido Tabellini

Bocconi University - Department of Economics; Bocconi University - IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research


How and why does distant political and economic history shape the functioning of current institutions? This paper argues that individual values and convictions about the scope of application of norms of good conduct provide the missing link. Evidence from a variety of sources points to two main findings. First, individual values consistent with generalized (as opposed to limited) morality are widespread in societies that were ruled by non-despotic political institutions in the distant past. Second, well functioning institutions are often observed in countries or regions where individual values are consistent with generalized morality, and under different identifying assumptions this suggests a causal effect from values to institutional outcomes. The paper ends with a discussion of the implications for future research.

Keywords: culture, growth, institutions, political economics

JEL Classification: A10, D7, E00

Suggested Citation

Tabellini, Guido, Culture and Institutions. CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP6589. Available at SSRN:

Guido Tabellini (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )

Via Gobbi 5
Milan, 20136

Bocconi University - IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136

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