Using the notion of inclusive fitness from behavioral genetics, we show in a simple model how kin altruism may generate corruption. We argue that societal differences in mating practices and family structure can alter the relative returns to kin altruism and thus the frequency of corruption. In societies with high levels of sub-ethnic fractionalization, where endogamous (and consanguineous) mating within kin-group, clan and tribe increases the local relatedness of individuals, the relative returns to norms of kin altruism are high. In societies with exogamous marriage practices, the relative returns to norms of cooperation with non-relatives and strangers are increased. Using cross-country and within-country regression analyses and a cross-country lab experiment, we provide evidence for this account.
Fractionalization, Kinship and Corruption
Feb 18th, 2016
Erik Kimbrough (Simon Fraser University)