Department of Economics
Cambridge, MA 02138
NBER Program Affiliations:
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
Information about this author at RePEc
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|June 2017||Kinship Systems, Cooperation and the Evolution of Culture|
Cultural psychologists and anthropologists argue that societies have developed heterogeneous systems of social organization to cope with social dilemmas, and that an entire bundle of psychological and biological characteristics has coevolved to enforce cooperation within these different regimes. This paper develops a measure of the tightness of historical kinship structures to provide empirical evidence for this large body of theories. In the data, societies with loose ancestral kinship ties cooperate and trust broadly, which appears to be sustained through a belief in moralizing gods, universal moral values, internalized guilt, altruistic punishment, and large-scale institutions. Societies with a historically tightly knit kinship structure, on the other hand, exhibit strong in-group favor...