Three Essays on Culture and Economic Activity




John, Arielle

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis examines the influence of culture on economic activity. I demonstrate that the concept of culture is similar to the concept of a constitution, since both emerge as spontaneous orders, both constrain and thus enable certain actions in order to generate predictable behavior and encourage cooperation within groups, and both bind people's decision-making in an "intermediate" way, making them rigid to change, but not static. I further examine the cultural constitutions of different ethnic groups in Trinidad and Tobago, and find that a person's culture influences her decision to become self-employed. Finally, I examine attitudes towards entrepreneurship in Trinidad and Tobago and demonstrate that while individuals there are alert to profit opportunities for cultural and institutional reasons, they are simultaneously discouraged from exploiting those profit opportunities for other cultural and institutional reasons. This thesis shows that to understand the incentives people weigh in their economic decisions, economists require a theoretical notion of culture that allows for a rich description of a group's history.



Economics, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Trinidad and Tobago