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The 'Out of Africa' Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development

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  • Ashraf, Quamrul
  • Galor, Oded

Abstract

This research argues that deep-rooted factors, determined tens of thousands of years ago, had a significant effect on the course of economic development from the dawn of human civilization to the contemporary era. It advances and empirically establishes the hypothesis that, in the course of the exodus of Homo sapiens out of Africa, variation in migratory distance from the cradle of humankind to various settlements across the globe affected genetic diversity and has had a long-lasting effect on the pattern of comparative economic development that is not captured by geographical, institutional, and cultural factors. In particular, the level of genetic diversity within a society is found to have a hump-shaped effect on development outcomes in both the pre-colonial and the modern era, reflecting the trade-off between the beneficial and the detrimental effects of diversity on productivity. While the intermediate level of genetic diversity prevalent among Asian and European populations has been conducive for development, the high degree of diversity among African populations and the low degree of diversity among Native American populations have been a detrimental force in the development of these regions.

Suggested Citation

  • Ashraf, Quamrul & Galor, Oded, 2011. "The 'Out of Africa' Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 8500, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8500
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Comparative development; Human genetic diversity; Income per capita; Land productivity; Neolithic Revolution; Population density; The 'Out of Africa' hypothesis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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