Nothing Else Matters: Evolution of Preference for Social Prestige

14 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2009 Last revised: 18 Jul 2012

See all articles by Roman Zakharenko

Roman Zakharenko

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: June 29, 2012

Abstract

This paper seeks answers to two questions. First, if a greater social activity of an individual enhances oblique (i.e. to non-relatives) transmission of her cultural traits, but reduces their vertical (i.e. to children) transmission as well as family size, which behavior is optimal from cultural evolution standpoint? I formalize a general model that characterizes evolutionarily stable behaviors. The proposed model replicates the theory of Newson et al. (2007) that fertility decline is caused by increasing role of oblique cultural transmission. Second, if social activity is a rational choice rather than culturally inherited trait, and if cultural transmission acts on preferences rather than decisions, which preferences survive the process of cultural evolution? I arrive at a very simple yet powerful result: under mild assumptions on model structure, only preferences which emphasize exclusively the concern for social prestige, i.e. extent to which one’s cultural trait has been picked up by others, survive.

Keywords: Cultural transmission, demographic transition, social prestige, evolutionary steady state

JEL Classification: C73, J11, Z13

Suggested Citation

Zakharenko, Roman, Nothing Else Matters: Evolution of Preference for Social Prestige (June 29, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1391753 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1391753

Roman Zakharenko (Contact Author)

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
59
Abstract Views
524
rank
359,982
PlumX Metrics