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The Economics of Utopia: A Co-Evolutionary Model of Ideas, Citizens and Civilization

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Document pages: 32 pages

Abstract: We propose a new history-friendly approach to evolutionary socio-economic dynamics based around competition between five ‘utopias’, as central ideas about which to order society: capitalism, socialism, democracy, nature, and nationalism (Montgomery and Chirot 2015). In our model, citizens contribute economic resources to their preferred utopia, and societal dynamics are explained as a co-evolutionary process between these competing utopias. Civilization emerges with competitive balance between these ideas, maximized when no one utopia dominates. We calibrate the model on a study of socio-economic and political change in the US from the 1960s-present. We cover such episodes as the outbreak of civil rights pro-democracy movements in the 1970s, the rise of neo-liberalism in the 1980s, and the channels through which America engendered an ‘age of fracture’. Further applications for empirical and theoretical research are suggested.

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