Romain Wacziarg (UCLA) will present “Endogenous Partitions” (joint with Klaus Desmet and Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín).
Time and venue: Friday, April 14, 11.15am – 12.30pm, in C322, RSVP required
Abstract: We develop a new method to endogenously partition society into cultural groups, without reference to predefined identity markers. To do so, we develop a measurement framework that divides people into distinct groups based on their answers to surveys of values, norms and attitudes. The method chooses divisions in order to minimize within-group antagonism, where antagonism is increasing in an individual's distance to other members of their group in answer space. We implement the method using the World Values Survey across 7 waves and 81 countries, with a particular focus on the US. We document several facts, among which: 1) A substantial reduction in within-group antagonism is obtained by partitioning society into two or three groups. 2) The reduction in within-cluster antagonism based on endogenous cultural partitions is an order of magnitude larger than that obtained based on predefined identity traits, such as gender. 3) In the US, partitions are largely driven by differences in religious and moral values - and cross-cluster differences in these values have increased over time. 4) In the US, cross-cluster differences in political ideology are the largest in our sample of countries, and have been increasing over time. We discuss the possible uses of our new measurement framework to study a range of questions in political economy.