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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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Fałkowski & Katarzyna Metelska-Szaniawska, 2015. "Przyczyny ustanawiania i stabilność konstytucji państwa - perspektywa ekonomiczna," Gospodarka Narodowa, Warsaw School of Economics, issue 3, pages 79-105.
    2. Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian & Jaya Wen, 2018. "Distrust and Political Turnover," NBER Working Papers 24187, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:eee:soceco:v:74:y:2018:i:c:p:146-150 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Zhe Zhang & Louis Putterman & Xu Zhang, 2018. "Trust and Cooperation at a Confluence of Worlds: An Experiment in Xinjiang, China," Working Papers 2018-4, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    5. Giampaolo Lecce & Laura Ogliari & Tommaso Orlando, 2017. "Resistance to Institutions and Cultural Distance: Brigandage in Post-Unification Italy," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2097, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    6. Melissa Dell & Nathaniel Lane & Pablo Querubin, 2017. "The Historical State, Local Collective Action, and Economic Development in Vietnam," NBER Working Papers 23208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Pamela Campa & Michel Serafinelli, 2016. "Politico-Economic Regimes And Attitudes: Female Workers Under State-Socialism Abstract: This paper investigates the extent to which attitudes are affected by political regimes and government policies.," Working Papers 089, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    8. Emeric Henry & Nicolas Jacquemet & Roberto Galbiati, 2017. "Spillovers, Persistence and Learning: Institutions and the Dynamics of Cooperation," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01613850, HAL.
    9. Jared Rubin & Elira Karaja, 2017. "The Cultural Transmission of Trust Norms: Evidence from a Lab in the Field on a Natural Experiment," Working Papers 17-08, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    10. Xue, Melanie Meng & Koyama, Mark, 2018. "Autocratic Rule and Social Capital: Evidence from Imperial China," MPRA Paper 84249, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. van Hoorn, André, 2018. "The use of identity primes to explain behavioral differences between groups: A methodological note," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 146-150.
    12. Leonardo Bursztyn & Georgy Egorov & Stefano Fiorin, 2017. "From Extreme to Mainstream: How Social Norms Unravel," NBER Working Papers 23415, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Fehr, Ernst & Williams, Tony, 2017. "Creating an Efficient Culture of Cooperation," IZA Discussion Papers 11131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Murat Iyigun & Jared Rubin, 2017. "The Ideological Roots of Institutional Change," Working Papers 17-06, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    15. Melissa Dell & Benjamin A. Olken, 2017. "The Development Effects of the Extractive Colonial Economy: The Dutch Cultivation System in Java," NBER Working Papers 24009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Boris Gershman, 2016. "Long-Run Development and the New Cultural Economics," Working Papers 2016-06, American University, Department of Economics.
    17. Ernst Fehr & Tony Williams, 2017. "Social norms, endogenous sorting and the culture of cooperation," ECON - Working Papers 267, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Apr 2018.
    18. Galbiati, Roberto & Henry, Emeric & Jacquemet, Nicolas, 2017. "Spillovers, Persistence and Learning: Institutions and the Dynamics of Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 12128, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    19. Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2017. "On the Joint Evolution of Culture and Institutions," CEPR Discussion Papers 12000, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    20. Jean-Paul Faguet & Camilo Matajira & Fabio Sánchez, 2017. "Is Extraction Bad? Encomienda and Development in Colombia since 1560," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015668, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    21. Johnson, Noel, 2015. "Taxes, National Identity, and Nation Building: Evidence from France," MPRA Paper 63598, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    22. Cornelius Christian, 2017. "Elites, Weather Shocks, And Witchcraft Trials In Scotland," Working Papers 1801, Brock University, Department of Economics.
    23. 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.
    24. Sirus Dehdari & Kai Gehring, 2017. "The Origins of Common Identity: Division, Homogenization Policies and Identity Formation in Alsace-Lorraine," CESifo Working Paper Series 6556, CESifo Group Munich.
    25. Ho, Hoang-Anh & Martinsson, Peter & Olsson, Ola, 2017. "The Origins of Cultural Divergence: Evidence from a Developing Country," Working Papers in Economics 714, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2018.

    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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