IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/25430.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Folklore

Author

Listed:
  • Stelios Michalopoulos
  • Melanie Meng Xue

Abstract

Folklore is the collection of traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community passed through the generations by word of mouth. We introduce to economics a unique catalogue of oral traditions spanning approximately 1,000 societies. After validating the catalogue’s content by showing that the groups’ motifs reflect known geographic and social attributes, we present two sets of applications. First, we illustrate how to fill in the gaps and expand upon a group’s ethnographic record, focusing on political complexity, high gods, and trade. Second, we discuss how machine learning and human-classification methods can help shed light on cultural traits, using gender roles, attitudes towards risk, and trust as examples. Societies with tales portraying men as dominant and women as submissive tend to relegate their women to subordinate positions in their communities, both historically and today. More risk-averse and less entrepreneurial people grew up listening to stories where competitions and challenges are more likely to be harmful than beneficial. Communities with low tolerance towards antisocial behavior, captured by the prevalence of tricksters getting punished, are more trusting and prosperous today. These patterns hold across groups, countries, and second- generation immigrants. Overall, the results highlight the significance of folklore in cultural economics, calling for additional applications.

Suggested Citation

  • Stelios Michalopoulos & Melanie Meng Xue, 2019. "Folklore," NBER Working Papers 25430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25430
    Note: CH DAE DEV POL
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w25430.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jeanet Bentzen & Jacob Gerner Hariri & James A. Robinson, 2014. "The Indigenous Roots of Representative Democracy," Discussion Papers 14-30, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    2. Assaf Sarid & Oded Galor, "undated". "Geographical Origins and Economic Consequences of Language Structures," Working Papers WP2017/4, University of Haifa, Department of Economics.
    3. Albert Saiz & Uri Simonsohn, 2013. "Proxying For Unobservable Variables With Internet Document-Frequency," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 137-165, February.
    4. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2012. "How Deep are the Roots of Economic Development?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3837, CESifo.
    5. Grimmer, Justin & Stewart, Brandon M., 2013. "Text as Data: The Promise and Pitfalls of Automatic Content Analysis Methods for Political Texts," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 267-297, July.
    6. Wisniewski, Tomasz Piotr & Lambe, Brendan, 2013. "The role of media in the credit crunch: The case of the banking sector," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 163-175.
    7. Raymond Fisman & Edward Miguel, 2007. "Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 1020-1048, December.
    8. Quamrul H. Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2018. "The Macrogenoeconomics of Comparative Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(3), pages 1119-1155, September.
    9. Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2012. "Persecution Perpetuated: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Violence in Nazi Germany," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1339-1392.
    10. Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, 2019. "Acts of God? Religiosity and Natural Disasters Across Subnational World Districts," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(622), pages 2295-2321.
    11. Osafo-Kwaako, Philip & Robinson, James A., 2013. "Political centralization in pre-colonial Africa," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 6-21.
    12. Pauline Grosjean, 2014. "A History Of Violence: The Culture Of Honor And Homicide In The Us South," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(5), pages 1285-1316, October.
    13. Benabou, Roland & Falk, Armin & Tirole, Jean, 2018. "Narratives, Imperatives, and Moral Reasoning," IZA Discussion Papers 11665, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Alberto Alesina & Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc & Paola Giuliano, 2015. "Family Values And The Regulation Of Labor," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 599-630, August.
    15. Marcella Alsan, 2015. "The Effect of the TseTse Fly on African Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 382-410, January.
    16. A. Belloni & D. Chen & V. Chernozhukov & C. Hansen, 2012. "Sparse Models and Methods for Optimal Instruments With an Application to Eminent Domain," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(6), pages 2369-2429, November.
    17. Nathan Nunn & Leonard Wantchekon, 2011. "The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3221-3252, December.
    18. Scott R. Baker & Nicholas Bloom & Steven J. Davis, 2016. "Measuring Economic Policy Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(4), pages 1593-1636.
    19. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse Shapiro & Matt Taddy, 2016. "Measuring Polarization in High-Dimensional Data: Method and Application to Congressional Speech," Working Papers id:11114, eSocialSciences.
    20. Assaf Sarid & Oded Galor, "undated". "Geographical Origins and Economic Consequences of Language Structures," Working Papers WP2017/4, University of Haifa, Department of Economics.
    21. James Fenske, 2013. "Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(12), pages 1363-1390, December.
    22. Bockstette, Valerie & Chanda, Areendam & Putterman, Louis, 2002. "States and Markets: The Advantage of an Early Start," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 347-369, December.
    23. Oded Galor & Omer Ozak, 2015. "Land Productivity and Economic Development: Caloric Suitability vs. Agricultural Suitability," Working Papers 2015-5, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    24. Melissa Dell & Nathan Lane & Pablo Querubin, 2018. "The Historical State, Local Collective Action, and Economic Development in Vietnam," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(6), pages 2083-2121, November.
    25. Paul C. Tetlock, 2007. "Giving Content to Investor Sentiment: The Role of Media in the Stock Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(3), pages 1139-1168, June.
    26. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 325-369, June.
    27. Sara Lowes & Nathan Nunn & James A. Robinson & Jonathan L. Weigel, 2017. "The Evolution of Culture and Institutions: Evidence From the Kuba Kingdom," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 85, pages 1065-1091, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2020. "Historical Legacies and African Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 58(1), pages 53-128, March.
    2. Stelios Michalopoulos & Louis Putterman & David N Weil, 2019. "The Influence of Ancestral Lifeways on Individual Economic Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 1186-1231.
    3. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2018. "Spatial Patterns of Development: A Meso Approach," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 10(1), pages 383-410, August.
    4. 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.
    5. Johannes C. Buggle, 2020. "Growing collectivism: irrigation, group conformity and technological divergence," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 147-193, June.
    6. Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & Ömer Özak, 2020. "The origins of the division of labor in pre-industrial times," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 297-340, September.
    7. Armin Falk & Anke Becker & Thomas Dohmen & Benjamin Enke & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2018. "Global Evidence on Economic Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(4), pages 1645-1692.
    8. Leonardo M. Klüppel & Lamar Pierce & Jason A. Snyder, 2018. "Perspective—The Deep Historical Roots of Organization and Strategy: Traumatic Shocks, Culture, and Institutions," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(4), pages 702-721, August.
    9. Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio & Özak, Ömer, 2016. "The Origins and Long-Run Consequences of the Division of Labor," MPRA Paper 74703, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2017. "States and economic growth: Capacity and constraints," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 1-20.
    11. Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & Ömer Özak, 2018. "The Origins of the Division of Labor in Pre-modern Times," Departmental Working Papers 1803, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.
    12. Matthew Gentzkow & Bryan T. Kelly & Matt Taddy, 2017. "Text as Data," NBER Working Papers 23276, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Cemal Eren Arbatlı & Quamrul H. Ashraf & Oded Galor & Marc Klemp, 2020. "Diversity and Conflict," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(2), pages 727-797, March.
    14. Melissa Dell & Nathan Lane & Pablo Querubin, 2018. "The Historical State, Local Collective Action, and Economic Development in Vietnam," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(6), pages 2083-2121, November.
    15. Fenske, James, 2015. "African polygamy: Past and present," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 58-73.
    16. Christian Ochsner & Felix Roesel, 2020. "Migrating Extremists," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 130(628), pages 1135-1172.
    17. Daniel Oto-Peralías & Diego Romero-Ávila, 2016. "The economic consequences of the Spanish Reconquest: the long-term effects of Medieval conquest and colonization," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 409-464, December.
    18. Cemal Eren Arbatlı & Quamrul H. Ashraf & Oded Galor & Marc Klemp, 2020. "Diversity and Conflict," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(2), pages 727-797, March.
    19. Iyigun, Murat & Rubin, Jared, 2017. "The Ideological Roots of Institutional Change," IZA Discussion Papers 10703, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. Cioni, Martina & Federico, Giovanni & Vasta, Michelangelo, 2019. "Three different tribes: how the relationship between economics and economic history has evolved in the 21st century," CEPR Discussion Papers 14192, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25430. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.