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Genetics, family structure, and economic growth

  • Paul J. Zak

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA 91711-6565, USA)

Recent biomedical research shows that roughly three-quarters of cognitive abilities are attributable to genetics and family environment. This paper presents a growth model that characterizes the role of the intergenerational transmission of genes and the effect of family environment on growth trajectories. If the average human or physical capital stocks are sufficiently low, the model shows that the economy will be caught in a poverty trap. Conversely, countries with more resources will converge to a bala nced growth path where the average rate of genetic transmission of skills from parents to children determines the long-run rate of output growth. Increased genetic diversity (or income inequality) is shown to raise the fertility rate and reduce output growth in the transitional dynamics. Thus, nature and nurture are able to explain a variety of countries' growth experiences.

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Evolutionary Economics.

Volume (Year): 12 (2002)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 343-365

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Handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:12:y:2002:i:3:p:343-365
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