Alberto Alesina and Paola Giuliano have a paper out entitled Family Ties and Political Participation.


We establish an inverse relationship between family ties and political participation, such that the more individuals rely on the family as a provider of services, insurance, transfer of resources, the lower is one’s civic engagment and political participation. We also show that strong family ties appear to be a substitute for generalized trust, rather than a complement to it. These three constructs-civic engagement, political participation, and trust- are part of what is known as social capital; therefore, in this paper, we contribute to the investigation of the origin and evolution of social capital. We establish these results using within-country evidence and looking at the behavior of immigrants from various countries in 32 different destination places.

They define amoral familism as caring and trusting only family members (2).  This reminds me of Stanley Kurtz’s phrase “I and my brother against my cousin,” or, more specifically, Steve Sailer’s “I against my brother. My brother and I against my cousin. My cousin and we against the world.

For Alesina and Giuliano, close family ties lead to less civic interest and thus less political participation (2).  They speculate (though somewhat indirectly) that this is perhaps why Latinos tend to be low-affinity voters.

Interesting point which seems backed up by regular experience:  “Men are always more interest in politics and more active in political activity” (9).

One thing that I noted was that the questions to determine political participation involve asking people how much they get from politics through TV, radio, or newspapers—there is no mention of the Internet here (11).  Because we’re dealing with second-generation immigrants, I don’t believe that this is a minor problem.

My takeaway:  family replaces government, and there is a competition between tribe and State.  Governments have incentives to destroy family ties and other parts of society:  then they can hook people on their own ties and gain power at the expense of these social institutions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s