I’m sharing this link to a fascinating paper by Pascual Restrepo, a PhD student in the econ department at MIT. Interesting use of data and an argument that, if true, has considerably implications for our understanding of institutions and the comparative history of white settlement in Canada and the United States.
Hockey Fight (Present-Day)
I study the role of the monopoly of force in shaping cultural traits associated with violence
and their persistence. I do so in the context of the settlement of the Canadian Prairies from
1890 to 1920. I find that places with a weaker monopoly of force by the Canadian state
during the settlement – as measured by their distance to the early Mounties’ fort – were and
are still more violent despite the later consolidation of the Canadian state. My interpretation
is that counties with a weak monopoly of force during the settlement developed a persistent
culture of violence. Consistent with my view, I find that hockey players born in these places
behave more violently even when observed in a common environment: the same team in the
National Hockey League. Besides the persistence of culture via inter-generational transmission
and socialization, I find that culture favors complementary institutions and political
views, creating an additional channel of persistence. Finally, I show that the monopoly of
force during the settlement crowds out pre-existing cultures of violence brought by immigrants.
Despite the persistence of culture and its dependence on past circumstances, the
right institutional conditions can change it.