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Explaining the World Heritage List: an empirical study


  • Bruno Frey


  • Paolo Pamini


  • Lasse Steiner



The UNESCO World Heritage List is designed to protect the global heritage. We show that, with respect to countries and continents, the existing World Heritage List is highly imbalanced. Major econometric determinants of this imbalance are historical GDP, historical population, area in square kilometers of a country, and number of years of high civilization. Surprisingly, economic and political factors, such as membership on the UN Security Council, which should be unrelated to the value of a country’s heritage and therefore should have no impact, are shown to have a systematic impact on the composition of the World Heritage List. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno Frey & Paolo Pamini & Lasse Steiner, 2013. "Explaining the World Heritage List: an empirical study," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 60(1), pages 1-19, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:inrvec:v:60:y:2013:i:1:p:1-19
    DOI: 10.1007/s12232-013-0174-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dreher, Axel & Sturm, Jan-Egbert & Vreeland, James Raymond, 2009. "Development aid and international politics: Does membership on the UN Security Council influence World Bank decisions?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 1-18, January.
    2. John M. Piotrowski & Rabah Arezki & Reda Cherif, 2009. "Tourism Specialization and Economic Development; Evidence from the UNESCO World Heritage List," IMF Working Papers 09/176, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Maddison, Angus, 2007. "Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD: Essays in Macro-Economic History," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199227204.
    4. Peacock, Alan & Rizzo, Ilde, 2008. "The Heritage Game: Economics, Policy, and Practice," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199213177.
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    Cited by:

    1. Axel Dreher & Vera Eichenauer & Kai Gehring, 2013. "Geopolitics, Aid and Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 4299, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Bruno S. Frey & Lasse Steiner, 2014. "God does not play dice, but people should: random selection in politics, science and society," ECON - Working Papers 144, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    3. Enrico Bertacchini & Federico Revelli, 2019. "Kalòs kai agathòs? Government quality and cultural heritage in the regions of Europe," CESifo Working Paper Series 7618, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Enrico Bertacchini & Claudia Liuzza & Lynn Meskell & Donatella Saccone, 2016. "The politicization of UNESCO World Heritage decision making," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 167(1), pages 95-129, April.
    5. Bruno S. Frey & Lasse Steiner, 2014. "Random Selection in Politics, Science and Society: Applications and Institutional Embeddedness," CREMA Working Paper Series 2014-09, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    6. repec:spr:soinre:v:137:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-017-1611-7 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    World heritage; Culture; UNESCO; International political economy; International organizations; Z11; F5; D6; H87;

    JEL classification:

    • Z11 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economics of the Arts and Literature
    • F5 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods


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