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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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    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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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew Dickens, 2020. "Understanding Ethnic Differences: The Roles of Geography and Trade," Working Papers 1901, Brock University, Department of Economics.
    2. Eder, Christoph & Halla, Martin, 2017. "Economic Origins of Cultural Norms: The Case of Animal Husbandry and Bastardy," IZA Discussion Papers 10969, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Maria Rosaria Carillo & Vincenzo Lombardo & Alberto Zazzaro, 2019. "The rise and fall of family firms in the process of development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 43-78, March.
    4. Helmut Rainer & Clara Albrecht & Stefan Bauernschuster & Anita Fichtl & Timo Hener & Joachim Ragnitz, 2018. "Deutschland 2017 - Studie zu den Einstellungen und Verhaltensweisen der Bürgerinnen und Bürger im vereinigten Deutschland," ifo Forschungsberichte, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 96, October.
    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. Oded Galor & Viacheslav Savitskiy, 2018. "Climatic Roots of Loss Aversion," CESifo Working Paper Series 6917, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Oded Galor & Viacheslav Savitskiy, 2018. "Climatic Roots of Loss Aversion," CESifo Working Paper Series 6917, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Brodeur, Abel & Haddad, Joanne, 2018. "Institutions, Attitudes and LGBT: Evidence from the Gold Rush," IZA Discussion Papers 11957, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Liang, Ruobing & Wang, Xiaobing & Yamauchi, Futoshi, 2018. "Cotton Revolution And Widow Chastity In Ming And Qing China," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274177, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    10. Annalisa Frigo & Eric Roca Fernandez, 2019. "Roots of Gender Equality: the Persistent Effect of Beguinages on Attitudes Toward Women," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2019013, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    11. Samuel Bazzi & Martin Fiszbein & Mesay Gebresilasse, 2017. "Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of "Rugged Individualism" in the United States," NBER Working Papers 23997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. Gutmann, Jerg & Voigt, Stefan, 2019. "Traditional law in times of the nation state: Why is it so prevalent?," ILE Working Paper Series 29, University of Hamburg, Institute of Law and Economics.
    15. Samuel Bazzi & Martin Fiszbein & Mesay Gebresilasse, 2018. "Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of “Rugged Individualism†in the United States," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series dp-302, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    16. 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).
    17. 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.
    18. Fabian Wahl, 2017. "Does European development have Roman roots? Evidence from the German Limes," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 313-349, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    cultural persistence; cultural change; tradition;

    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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