Kin-Networks and Institutional Development

75 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2022 Last revised: 1 Mar 2022

See all articles by Jonathan Schulz

Jonathan Schulz

George Mason University; University of Nottingham - Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics (CeDEx); George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: September 01, 2016


This study provides evidence that strong kin networks are detrimental for democratic participatory institutions and that the medieval Catholic Church’s marriage regulations dissolved Europe’s clan-based kin networks which contributed to the emergence of participatory institutions. I show that weak ancestral kin networks are positively associated with ethnicities’ democratic traditions in the past and countries’ democracy scores today. At the same time, medieval Church exposure predicts weak kin networks across countries, European regions and ethnicities. In a historical difference-in-difference analysis, I provide evidence that exposure to the Church contributed to the formation of medieval communes – self-governed cities with participatory institutions. Moreover, within Christian Europe, stricter regional and temporal marriage prohibitions are associated with commune formation. Lastly, I shed light on one mechanism, civicness, and show that weak kin networks are associated with higher political participation.

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

JEL Classification: O10, N20, N30, Z10

Suggested Citation

Schulz, Jonathan, Kin-Networks and Institutional Development (September 01, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Jonathan Schulz (Contact Author)

George Mason University ( email )

Fairfax, VA
United States

University of Nottingham - Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics (CeDEx) ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
United Kingdom

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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