Identity and the Evolution of Institutions: Evidence from Partition and Interwar Poland
This paper advances a logical, if possibly controversial, thesis: institutional design is inherently a product of identity, at both the individual and group level. Building on recent advances in identity economics and new institutional economics, this research shows how identity can be used to explain institutional genesis and the persistence of “inefficient” institutions. Applying this model to Poland in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it is evident that the identity-based institutional building which had served individuals so well under occupation in Poland resulted in “inefficient” institutions, unsuited for the changing external environment. Only taking an identity lens to the Polish experience can we see a satisfactory explanation for the failure of institutions in interwar Poland.
Christopher A. Hartwell's new paper is available in Forum for Social Economics.