The Social Climbing Game
ETH RC Working Paper No. 12-014
15 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2013
Date Written: September 6, 2012
The structure of a society depends, to some extent, on the incentives of the individuals they are composed of. We study a stylized model of this interplay, that suggests that the more individuals aim at climbing the social hierarchy, the more society's hierarchy gets strong. Such a dependence is sharp, in the sense that a persistent hierarchical order emerges abruptly when the preference for social status gets larger than a threshold. This phase transition has its origin in the fact that the presence of a well defined hierarchy allow agents to climb it, thus reinforcing it, whereas in a "disordered'' society it is harder for agents to find out whom they should connect to in order to become more central. Interestingly, a social order emerges when agents strive harder to climb society and it results in a state of reduced social mobility, as a consequence of ergodicity breaking, where climbing is more difficult.
Keywords: hierarchical organisation, network centrality, inequality
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