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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 measurment 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 Department of Economics, Tufts University in its series Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University with number 0768.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0768

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  1. The deep roots of development
    by Jason Collins in Evolving Economics on 2012-06-25 11:24:50
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  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. Olsson, Ola & Paik, Christopher, 2013. "A Western Reversal Since the Neolithic? The Long-Run Impact of Early Agriculture," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 139, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  5. 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.
  6. Alberto Alesina & Johann Harnoss & Hillel Rapoport, 2013. "Birthplace Diversity and Economic Prosperity," NBER Working Papers 18699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre, 2013. "Trust, Growth and Well-being: New Evidence and Policy Implications," IZA Discussion Papers 7464, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "Long-Term Barriers to Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 19361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Alexandre Rands Barros, 2010. "Historical Origins of Brazilian Relative Backwardness," Working Papers 64, Datamétrica Consultoria Econômica, revised 2012.
  11. 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.

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