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Rice farming, culture and democracy

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  • Ang, James B.
  • Madsen, Jakob B.
  • Wang, Wen

Abstract

This paper proposes that societies with a rice farming legacy tend to be less democratic today than societies with a wheat farming legacy. We argue that rice cultivation is associated with the adoption of a collectivist culture, which in turn fosters greater conformity pressures on political norms and deters democratization. Conversely, a wheat farming legacy leads to the development of individualism, which in turn promotes democracy. Using the rice-wheat suitability ratio for a sample of 146 countries as an exogenous variable for rice farming culture, we find that the rice-wheat suitability ratio is a deep-rooted determinant for the formation of democratic institutions through a culture of collectivism vs. individualism.

Suggested Citation

  • Ang, James B. & Madsen, Jakob B. & Wang, Wen, 2021. "Rice farming, culture and democracy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 136(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:136:y:2021:i:c:s0014292121001318
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2021.103778
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Deep-rooted determinants of democracy; Rice suitability; Wheat suitability; Culture;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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