Kin-Networks and Institutional Development

76 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2016 Last revised: 12 Nov 2019

See all articles by Jonathan Schulz

Jonathan Schulz

George Mason University; Harvard University

Date Written: April 24, 2019


The origins of growth-enhancing political institutions are not well understood. This study tests the hypothesis that the Catholic Church’s medieval marriage policies fostered inclusive institutions by dissolving extended kin networks. In a difference-in-difference setting, I provide evidence that exposure to the Church fostered the formation of medieval communes – self-governed cities with inclusive institutions. Moreover, within Christian Europe, stricter regional and temporal cousin-marriage prohibitions are positively associated with commune cities. In addition, longer medieval Church exposure predicts lower cousin-marriage rates; in turn, low cousin-marriage rates predict higher civicness and more inclusive institutions among pre-industrial ethnicities, European regions, and modern-day countries.

Keywords: Democracy, Family, Kin-groups, Church, Cousin-Marriage, Institutions

JEL Classification: O10, N20, N30, Z10

Suggested Citation

Schulz, Jonathan, Kin-Networks and Institutional Development (April 24, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Jonathan Schulz (Contact Author)

George Mason University ( email )

Fairfax, VA
United States

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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