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Culture, Institutions and the Wealth of Nations

  • Gorodnichenko, Yuriy


    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Roland, Gerald


    (University of California, Berkeley)

We construct an endogenous growth model that includes a cultural variable along the dimension of individualism-collectivism. The model predicts that more individualism leads to more innovation because of the social rewards associated with innovation in an individualist culture. This cultural effect may offset the negative effects of bad institutions on growth. Collectivism leads to efficiency gains relative to individualism, but these gains are static, unlike the dynamic effect of individualism on growth through innovation. Using genetic data as instruments for culture we provide strong evidence of a causal effect of individualism on income per worker and total factor productivity as well as on innovation. The baseline genetic markers we use are interpreted as proxies for cultural transmission but others have a direct effect on individualism and collectivism, in line with recent advances in biology and neuro-science. The effect of culture on long-run growth remains very robust even after controlling for the effect of institutions and other factors. We also provide evidence of a two-way causal effect between culture and institutions.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5187.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5187
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  1. Amir N. Licht & Chanan Goldschmidt & Shalom H. Schwartz, 2003. "Culture Rules: The Foundations of the Rule of Law and Other Norms of Governance," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-605, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  2. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
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  4. Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2005. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," Working Papers 05-07, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  5. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Cultural Diversity, Geographical Isolation, and the Origin of the Wealth of Nations," Working Papers 2011-16, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  6. Wacziarg, Romain & Spolaore, Enrico, 2006. "The Diffusion of Development," Research Papers 1898r1, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  7. Francesco Aiello & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2000. "Uneven Regional Development in Italy: Explaining Differences in Productivity Levels," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 59(2), pages 270-298, September.
  8. Giuliano, Paola & Spilimbergo, Antonio & Tonon, Giovanni, 2006. "Genetic, Cultural and Geographical Distances," CEPR Discussion Papers 5807, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
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  11. Matthias Doepke, . "Occupational Choice and the Spirit of Capitalism," UCLA Economics Online Papers 419, UCLA Department of Economics.
  12. Paola Giuliano, 2007. "Living Arrangements in Western Europe: Does Cultural Origin Matter?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(5), pages 927-952, 09.
  13. Yasheng Huang & Li Jin & Yi Qian, 2010. "Does Ethnicity Pay," NBER Working Papers 16294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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