The Emergence of Self-governance Institutions: Agent-based Simulation of Game Theoretic Models of Democratization




Reed, Elaine Esker

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Institutions are created by people interacting in complex ways with others in their socio-economic environment. A study of institutions should therefore study the people and interactions that create them. Acemoglu and Robinson developed a theory on the creation and consolidation of democracy through a game-theoretic framework. They studied how economic incentives influence the way social groups shape institutions to allocate political and economic power. The A&R models assume groups of people are completely rational and identical intra-group in order to make the models mathematically tractable. My dissertation utilizes an agent-based computational methodology to reproduce the A&R formal models with the same restrictions in order to validate my model. Specifically, with intra-group homogeneity the agent-based model reproduces the group-level threshold conditions affecting institutional choices found by A&R. I show that these results are robust to parameter changes within the ranges defined by A&R. The more flexible computational methodology allows me to relax the restrictive assumptions and explore how a more realistic set of assumptions such as heterogeneous incomes and limited intelligence affect the larger outcomes for all groups. The population structure with heterogeneity can include a more realistic middle class. Modeling a middle class by using agent-based models with heterogeneous agents finds that the effect of a middle class is non-linear and does not make democratizations more likely for all ranges of underlying economic conditions. This dissertation demonstrates the usefulness of agent-based modeling as a viable alternative quantitative methodology for studying complex institutions.



Economics, Political science, Computer science, ABM, Agent-based, Democratization, Institutions, Political Economy, Self-governance