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How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?

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  • Enrico Spolaore
  • Romain Wacziarg

Abstract

The empirical literature on economic growth and development has moved from the study of proximate determinants to the analysis of ever deeper, more fundamental factors, rooted in long-term history. A growing body of new empirical work focuses on the measurement and estimation of the effects of historical variables on contemporary income by explicitly taking into account the ancestral composition of current populations. The evidence suggests that economic development is affected by traits that have been transmitted across generations over the very long run. This article surveys this new literature and provides a framework to discuss different channels through which intergenerationally transmitted characteristics may impact economic development, biologically (via genetic or epigenetic transmission) and culturally (via behavioral or symbolic transmission). An important issue is whether historically transmitted traits have affected development through their direct impact on productivity, or have operated indirectly as barriers to the diffusion of productivity-enhancing innovations across populations.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18130.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Publication status: published as Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 325-69, June.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18130

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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The deep roots of development
    by Jason Collins in Evolving Economics on 2012-06-25 11:24:50
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Cited by:
  1. Alesina, Alberto & Harnoss, Johann & Rapoport, Hillel, 2013. "Birthplace Diversity and Economic Prosperity," IZA Discussion Papers 7568, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "Long-Term Barriers to Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 19361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. repec:cge:warwcg:139 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Junankar, Pramod N. (Raja), 2013. "Is there a Trade-off between Employment and Productivity?," IZA Discussion Papers 7717, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Mesbah J. Motamed & Raymond J.G.M. Florax & William A. Masters, 2014. "Agriculture, Transportation and the Timing of Urbanization: Global Analysis at the Grid Cell Level," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-002/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
  6. repec:cge:warwcg:148 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Hugo J. Faria & Hugo M. Montesinos-Yufa & Daniel R. Morales, 2014. "Should the Modernization Hypothesis Survive Acemoglu, Johnson, Robinson, and Yared? Some More Evidence," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 11(1), pages 17-36, January.
  8. Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre, 2014. "Trust, Growth, and Well-Being: New Evidence and Policy Implications," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 2, pages 49-120 Elsevier.
  9. Maridal, J. Haavard, 2013. "Cultural impact on national economic growth," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 136-146.
  10. Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & David N. Weil, 2013. "Malaria and Early African Development: Evidence from the Sickle Cell Trait," NBER Working Papers 19603, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Vidal-Robert, Jordi, 2014. "Long-run effects of the Spanish Inquisition," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 192, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  12. Martin Acht & Toman Omar Mahmoud & Rainer Thiele, 2014. "Corrupt Governments Receive Less Bilateral Aid: Governance and the Delivery of Foreign Aid through Non-Government Actors," Kiel Working Papers 1901, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  13. Alexandre Rands Barros, 2010. "Historical Origins of Brazilian Relative Backwardness," Working Papers 64, Datamétrica Consultoria Econômica, revised 2012.
  14. Davide Cantoni & Franziska Kugler & Ludger Wößmann, 2014. "Der lange Schatten der Geschichte: Mechanismen der Persistenz in der Wirtschaftsgeschichte," Ifo Schnelldienst, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 67(02), pages 13-22, 01.
  15. Maloney, William F. & Caicedo, Felipe Valencia, 2014. "Engineers, Innovative Capacity and Development in the Americas," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6814, The World Bank.

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