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The Evolution of Culture and Institutions: Evidence from the Kuba Kingdom

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  • Sara Lowes
  • Nathan Nunn
  • James A. Robinson
  • Jonathan Weigel

Abstract

We use variation in historical state centralization to examine the impact of institutions on cultural norms. The Kuba Kingdom, established in Central Africa in the early 17th century by King Shyaam, had more developed state institutions than the other independent villages and chieftaincies in the region. It had an unwritten constitution, separation of political powers, a judicial system with courts and juries, a police force and military, taxation, and significant public goods provision. Comparing individuals from the Kuba Kingdom to those from just outside the Kingdom, we find that centralized formal institutions are associated with weaker norms of rule-following and a greater propensity to cheat for material gain.

Suggested Citation

  • Sara Lowes & Nathan Nunn & James A. Robinson & Jonathan Weigel, 2015. "The Evolution of Culture and Institutions: Evidence from the Kuba Kingdom," NBER Working Papers 21798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21798
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sara Lowes & Nathan Nunn & James A. Robinson & Jonathan Weigel, 2015. "Understanding Ethnic Identity in Africa: Evidence from the Implicit Association Test (IAT)," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 340-345, May.
    2. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2011. "Pillars of Prosperity: The Political Economics of Development Clusters," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9624.
    3. Urs Fischbacher & Franziska Föllmi-Heusi, 2013. "Lies In Disguise—An Experimental Study On Cheating," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 525-547, June.
    4. Rauch, James E. & Evans, Peter B., 2000. "Bureaucratic structure and bureaucratic performance in less developed countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 49-71, January.
    5. Dincecco,Mark, 2013. "Political Transformations and Public Finances," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107617759, April.
    6. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    7. Nicola Gennaioli & Ilia Rainer, 2007. "The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 185-234, September.
    8. S. Bowles & S. Polania-Reyes., 2013. "Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Substitutes or Complements?," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • N47 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Africa; Oceania

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