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Institutions, culture and the onset of the demographic transition


  • Alberto Basso

    () (Dpto. Fundamentos del Análisis Económico)

  • David Cuberes Vilalta

    () (Dpto. Fundamentos del Análisis Económico)


This paper uses new estimates of the dates on which different countries experienced their demographic transition to examine the main historical determinants of these transitions. Our results indicate that countries with better historical institutions reached the onset of the transition earlier. This is the case after controlling for the effects of geography, climate, religion, and legal origins. We distinguish between the roles played by formal and informal institutions, where the latter are proxied by culture, using the genetic distance between populations from Spolaore and Wacziarg (2009). We find that both types of institutions are significant predictors of the timing of demographic transition. Our results are robust to endogeneity issues, measurement error, and alternative specifications.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Basso & David Cuberes Vilalta, 2011. "Institutions, culture and the onset of the demographic transition," Working Papers. Serie AD 2011-13, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  • Handle: RePEc:ivi:wpasad:2011-13

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    More about this item


    institutions; culture; demographic transition; unified growth theory;

    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure

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