nep-cul New Economics Papers
on Cultural Economics
Issue of 2005‒12‒14
three papers chosen by
Roberto Zanola
Universita degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

  1. Protecting Cultural Monuments Against Terrorism By Bruno S. Frey and Dominic Rohner
  2. Modern and Ancient Cultural Capital. A Worldwide Cross-Sectional Analysis. By Guido Travaglini
  3. Symbolic Public Goods and the Coordination of Collective Action : A Comparison of Local Development in India and Indonesia By Vijayendra Rao

  1. By: Bruno S. Frey and Dominic Rohner
    Abstract: Famous cultural monuments are often regarded as unique icons, making them an attractive target for terrorists. Despite huge military and police outlays, terrorist attacks on important monuments can hardly be avoided. We argue that an effective strategy for discouraging terrorist attacks on iconic monuments is for the government to show a firm commitment to swift reconstruction. Using a simple game-theoretic model, we demonstrate how a credible claim to rebuild any cultural monuments destroyed discourages terrorist attacks by altering the terrorists’ expectations and by increasing the government’s reputation costs if they fail to rebuild.
    Keywords: Terrorism, Culture, Monuments, Counter-terrorism, Deterrence
    JEL: D74 H56 Z10
    Date: 2005–12
  2. By: Guido Travaglini (Università di Roma 'La Sapienza')
    Abstract: In this paper I attempt at answering to the following question: is modern culture affected by amcient cultural heritage? Are Archimedes and Qin Shi Huang, Cicero and Shakespeare, and the like, still intellectually alive? Do the Parthenon and the Temple of Heaven, and the like, significantly affect modern architects, artists, engineers and novelists? And if so, to what extent? To this end, by drawing from the genetics and memetics literature on cultural transmission and evolution, I empirically test for the existence of links between modern and ancient cultural capital stocks for a sample of over one hundred countries. By using some relevant international datasets, I proxy the former kind of stock with several education and printed-paper indicators and the latter with some distinctive features drawn from the UNESCO List of the World Heritage Cultural Properties. I run for each of the modern-culture indicators a cross-section regression to establish the magnitude and significance of these links, along with the effects of current demographic, social and economic variables. Due to the implied small- sample size, as well as to measurement error and endogeneity, coefficient bias associated to ‘weak instrumenting’ and to ‘excess instrumenting’ represents a serious issue, which is appropriately tackled by comparing some recently proposed econometric estimation methods. These are: Empirical Likelihood (EL), two-step Generalized Method of Moments (GMM) and Bias-Corrected GMM (BGMM). The results obtained are in general similar, although the first outsmarts the other two by optimally selecting the instrument vector, and are definitely appealing, as there appears to be for most of the indicators and for the entire sample a timeless and significant thread connecting modern with ancient cultural capital, although in certain cases it is tied to elitarian means of learning and transmission.
    Keywords: Education, Books and newspapers, Cross-Section, Empirical Likelihood, Generalized Method of Moments.
    JEL: C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C8
    Date: 2005–12–07
  3. By: Vijayendra Rao (The World Bank)
    Abstract: Most economists think of common property as physical-a body of water, a forest-and as bounded within geographic space. In this paper, building on work in social theory, the author argues that common property can also be social-defined within symbolic space. People can be bound by well-defined symbolic agglomerations that have characteristics similar to common property. He calls these "symbolic public goods" (SPGs) and make the case that such constructs are central to understanding collective action. He illustrates the point by contrasting how conceptions of nationalism in Indonesia and India created SPGs that resulted in very different strategies of local development. Indonesia emphasized collective action by the poor that resulted in a form of regressive taxation, enforced by the ideology of svadaya gotong royong (community self-help) that was both internalized and coercively enforced. India emphasized democratic decentralization through the panchayat system driven by the Gandhian ideology of gram swaraj (self-reliant villages). This has resulted in an unusual equity-efficiency tradeoff. Indonesia has delivered public services much more efficiently than India did, but at the cost of democratic freedoms and voice. The author argues that the challenge for these countries is not to undermine their existing SPGs but to build on them. Indonesia should retain the spirit of svadaya gotong royong but channel it in an equitable and democratic direction, while India should build the capacity of the panchayat system by giving it fiscal teeth, while promoting underutilized institutions such as Gram Sabhas (village meetings) that encourage accountability and transparency.
    Keywords: Governance, Urban development, Poverty, Rural development, Social Development
    Date: 2005–08–01

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