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Friday, 21 January 2011

The Limits of Institutions

The fact is that we realise that even the best structures and the most idealised systems quickly become inhuman if human inclinations are not improved, if there is no conversion of heart and mind on the part of those who are living in those structures or controlling them.
From an excellent editorial in The Post. The wisdom of this post is quite a rebuke for those of us with "institutional" tendencies. In recent months, I have come to appreciate the durability of culture and the limit of incentives to alter them. Perhaps that explains empirical failure of the "modernisation hypothesis". According to Acemoglu, "countries have embarked upon different development paths, most likely at some critical junctures during their histories, and while some paths have led to democracy and prosperity, some others involved non-democracy and relative poverty". Could it be that those "critical junctures" actually are those points where that conversion of "heart and mind" takes place? 

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