On the causes and effects of specialization : A mathematical approach

University dissertation from Västerås : Mälardalens högskola

Abstract: Division of labor and division of knowledge are so important andcommon in society today that it is almost impossible to imagine asociety where everyone knows the same things and perform the sametasks. This would be a society where everyone grows, or gathers, andprepares their own food, makes their own tools, builds their ownhouse, and so on.Cultural evolution is the field of research that studies the creationand diffusion of ideas and societies. It is very uncommon for thesestudies to take into account the effects of specialization. Thisthesis will show that specialization is of great importance tocultural evolution.The thesis is divided into three parts: one introduction and two papers. The introduction covers the mathematical models used byeconomists to study the relation between the market and division oflabor. The first paper is an interdisciplinary survey of the researchon division of labor and specialization, including both theoretic andempirical studies. The second paper is a mathematical model of howspecialization of knowledge (i.e. higher education) leads to socialstratification. The model is tested against statistical data fromseveral countries and found to be a good predictor of the differencesin income between people of high and low education.

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