The Role of Passionate Individuals in Economic Development
16 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2011 Last revised: 18 Jul 2012
Date Written: March 14, 2012
This paper uses insights from the theory of “passionate individuals” by Gumilev (2005(1978)) to develop a growth theory that associates higher social development with higher individual intrinsic motivation to solve problems of social importance (i.e. make “cultural contributions”).
Individuals derive utility from consumption and from cultural success, defined as the amount of appreciation (“honor”) of one’s cultural contribution by future generations. To make a contribution, one must study/honor contributions of the past, which leads to multiple steady states. In the survival steady state, individuals expect no future appreciation of their contribution, which makes them allocate all energy onto consumption and care little about past contributions. In the passionate steady state, individuals expect high appreciation of their contribution and spend on it a lot of energy, which makes them highly appreciate contributions of the past. The theory is contrasted with literature in sociology, economic history, and cultural transmission theory.
Keywords: passionate individuals, self-expression values, poverty trap, economic growth
JEL Classification: O11, O49, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation