Child Development in Parent-Child InteractionsJournal articleAvner Seror, Journal of Political Economy, Volume 130, Issue 9, pp. 2462-2499, 2022

I present a model of child development that highlights the effect of parent-child interactions on the formation of skills. Through the parent’s affection, the child learns and builds mental representations of the self as loved and competent. These mental representations shape the child’s noncognitive skills and foster learning. I show that this model provides a unifying explanation for well-established evidence on child development. The model also sheds light on how early exposure to media devices can negatively impact skill acquisition. I discuss implications for the design of policies to reduce inequalities in child development.

A theory of cultural revivalsJournal articleMurat Iyigun, Jared Rubin and Avner Seror, European Economic Review, Volume 135, pp. 103734, 2021

Why do some societies have political institutions that support productively inefficient outcomes? And why does the political power of elites vested in these outcomes often grow over time, even when they are unable to block more efficient modes of production? We propose an explanation centered on the interplay between political and cultural change. We build a model in which cultural values are transmitted inter-generationally. The cultural composition of society, in turn, determines public-goods provision as well as the future political power of elites from different cultural groups. We characterize the equilibrium of the model and provide sufficient conditions for the emergence of cultural revivals. These are characterized as movements in which both the cultural composition of society as well as the political power of elites who are vested in productively inefficient outcomes grow over time. We reveal the usefulness of our framework by applying it to two case studies: the Jim Crow South and Turkey’s Gülen Movement.

Religious Legitimacy and the Joint Evolution of Culture and InstitutionsBook chapterAlberto Bisin, Avner Seror and Thierry Verdier, In: Advances in the Economics of Religion, JP. Carvalho, S. Iyer and J. Rubin (Eds.), 2019-06, pp. 321-332, Springer International Publishing, 2019

Religious legitimacy is becoming a central concept in historical economics, in comparative studies of the political economy of preindustrial societies in particular. In this short chapter, we provide some preliminary insights on the emergence of religious legitimacy in the context of the general theory of the evolution of institutions and culture. We show that it is the interaction of institutions and culture that is responsible for the most relevant implications of religious legitimacy in terms of economic growth and prosperity.