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Ancestry, Language and Culture

Author

Listed:
  • Enrico Spolaore
  • Romain Wacziarg

Abstract

We explore the interrelationships between various measures of cultural distance. We first discuss measures of genetic distance, used in the recent economics literature to capture the degree of relatedness between countries. We next describe several classes of measures of lin-guistic, religious, and cultural distances. We introduce new measures of cultural distance based on differences in average answers to questions from the World Values Survey. Using a simple theoretical model we hypothesize that ancestral distance, measured by genetic distance, is positively correlated with linguistic, religious, and cultural distance. An empirical exploration of these correlations shows this to be the case. This empirical evidence is consistent with the view that genetic distance is a summary statistic for a wide array of cultural traits transmitted intergenerationally.

Suggested Citation

  • Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2015. "Ancestry, Language and Culture," CESifo Working Paper Series 5388, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5388
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Melitz, Jacques & Toubal, Farid, 2014. "Native language, spoken language, translation and trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 351-363.
    2. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 325-369, June.
    3. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond the Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988.
    4. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2013. "The 'Out of Africa' Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 1-46, February.
    5. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2012. "Long-Term Barriers to the International Diffusion of Innovations," NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 11-46.
    6. Cemal Eren Arbatli & Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2013. "The Nature of Civil Conflict," Working Papers 2013-15, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    7. repec:ags:aaea07:417 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2013. "Genetic Diversity and the Origins of Cultural Fragmentation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 528-533, May.
    9. repec:edn:sirdps:417 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:ags:aaea07:381 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Klaus Desmet & Michel Breton & Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín & Shlomo Weber, 2011. "The stability and breakup of nations: a quantitative analysis," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 183-213, September.
    12. Ashraf, Quamrul & Galor, Oded, 2008. "Human Genetic Diversity and Comparative Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 6824, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Melitz, Jacques, 2008. "Language and foreign trade," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 667-699, May.
    14. Bai, Ying & Kung, James Kai-sing, 2011. "Genetic distance and income difference: Evidence from changes in China's cross-strait relations," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 110(3), pages 255-258, March.
    15. Fearon, James D, 2003. "Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 195-222, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frédéric Docquier & Riccardo Turati & Jérôme Valette & Chrysovalantis Vasilakis, 2016. "Multiculturalism and Growth: Skill-Specific Evidence from the Post-World War II Period," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2016028, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    2. Kukharskyy, Bohdan, 2016. "Relational contracts and global sourcing," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 123-147.
    3. Thu Hien Dao & Frédéric Docquier & Chris Parsons & Giovanni Peri, 2016. "Migration and Development: Dissecting the Anatomy of the Mobility Transition," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2016029, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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