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Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change

Author

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  • Giuliano, Paola

    (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Nunn, Nathan

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

When does culture persist and when does it change? We examine a determinant that has been put forth in the anthropology literature: the variability of the environment from one generation to the next. A prediction, which emerges from a class of existing models from evolutionary anthropology, is that following the customs of the previous generation is relatively more beneficial in stable environments where the culture that has evolved up to the previous generation is more likely to be relevant for the subsequent generation. We test this hypothesis by measuring the variability of average temperature across 20-year generations from 500–1900. Looking across countries, ethnic groups, and the descendants of immigrants, we find that populations with ancestors who lived in environments with more stability from one generation to the next place a greater importance in maintaining tradition today. These populations also exhibit more persistence in their traditions over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Giuliano, Paola & Nunn, Nathan, 2017. "Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change," IZA Discussion Papers 10930, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10930
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2018-05-17 19:54:59

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    5. Samuel Bazzi & Martin Fiszbein & Mesay Gebresilasse, 2017. "Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of “Rugged Individualism†in the United States," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2018-004, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    6. Annalisa Frigo & Eric Roca Fernandez, 2019. "Roots of Gender Equality: the Persistent Effect of Beguinages on Attitudes Toward Women," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2019013, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    7. Anastasia Litina & Èric Roca Fernández, 2020. "Celestial enlightenment: eclipses, curiosity and economic development among pre-modern ethnic groups [Working Papers / Documents de travail]," Working Papers halshs-03044843, HAL.
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    12. Chaudhary, Latika & Rubin, Jared & Iyer, Sriya & Shrivastava, Anand, 2020. "Culture and colonial legacy: Evidence from public goods games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 107-129.
    13. Humphreys, Macartan & de la Sierra, Raúl Sánchez & der Windt, Peter Van, 2019. "Exporting democratic practices: Evidence from a village governance intervention in Eastern Congo," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 279-301.
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    15. Carillo, Mario Francesco, 2018. "Fascistville: Mussolini's New Towns and the Persistence of Neo-Fascism," MPRA Paper 96236, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 03 Oct 2019.
    16. Humphreys, Macartan & Sánchez de la Sierra, Raúl & Van der Windt, Peter, 2019. "Exporting democratic practices: Evidence from a village governance intervention in Eastern Congo," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 279-301.
    17. Ananyev, Maxim & Poyker, Michael, 2021. "Christian missions and anti-gay attitudes in Africa," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 184(C), pages 359-374.
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    19. Ji, Yaling, 2020. "Religiosity and the adoption of formal financial services," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 378-396.
    20. Simon Haenni & Guilherme Lichand, 2020. "Harming to signal: child marriage vs. public donations in Malawi," ECON - Working Papers 348, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    21. Wang, Jingfan & Tchapmi, Lyne P. & Ravikumar, Arvind P. & McGuire, Mike & Bell, Clay S. & Zimmerle, Daniel & Savarese, Silvio & Brandt, Adam R., 2020. "Machine vision for natural gas methane emissions detection using an infrared camera," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 257(C).
    22. Toroghi, Shahaboddin H. & Oliver, Matthew E., 2019. "Framework for estimation of the direct rebound effect for residential photovoltaic systems," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 251(C), pages 1-1.
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    24. Roca Fernandez, Eric & Litina, Anastasia, 2020. "The Terror of History: Solar Eclipses and the Origins of Social Complexity and Complex Thinking," VfS Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Conference): Gender Economics 224553, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    cultural persistence; cultural change; tradition;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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