The Coevolution of Culture and Institutions in Seventeenth Century England

48 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2011

See all articles by Peter Murrell

Peter Murrell

University of Maryland - Department of Economics

Martin Schmidt

University of Maryland, College Park

Date Written: July 6, 2011

Abstract

We examine how cultural and institutional development interact with each other over time, constructing new annual measures of cultural dynamics and institutional development for a paradigmatic episode of change, seventeenth century England. The institutional measures reflect citations of cases and statutes appearing in later legal decisions, thereby capturing the growth of formal legal institutions weighted by usage. The cultural measures reflect frequency of word use in publications, interpreted using a model of social learning that elucidates the relationship between cultural diffusion and word frequency.

We find that institutional development takes place over the whole period that we study (1559-1714). Especially fecund years are from the mid-1580's to the mid-1620's and from 1660-1680. There is no indication that the Glorious Revolution of 1688 spurred institutional development. The diffusion of modern ('whig') political culture is much more concentrated in time than is institutional development. Until 1640, the diffusion of whig culture is limited, but then dramatic change occurs, with over half of the cultural diffusion that we focus upon completed by 1660. The process of cultural change was largely completed by the time of the major constitutional legislation of the late 17th century. Vector-error-correction estimates of the relationships in the annual data suggest that culture and case-law coevolve but that statute law is a product of the other two.

Keywords: culture, institutions, coevolution, Stuart England, Glorious Revolution

JEL Classification: O43, N43, K10, O11, C80

Suggested Citation

Murrell, Peter and Schmidt, Martin, The Coevolution of Culture and Institutions in Seventeenth Century England (July 6, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1880957 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1880957

Peter Murrell (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States
301-405-3476 (Phone)
301-405-3542 (Fax)

Martin Schmidt

University of Maryland, College Park ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States

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