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The Diffusion of Development

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  • Enrico Spolaore
  • Romain Wacziarg

Abstract

This paper studies the barriers to the diffusion of development across countries from a longterm perspective. We find that genetic distance, a measure associated with the amount of time elapsed since two populations’ last common ancestors, bears a statistically and economically significant relationship with pairwise income differences, even when controlling for various other measures of geographical, climatic, cultural and historical differences. We provide an economic interpretation of these findings, within a framework in which (a) genetic distance captures divergence in characteristics, including cultural traits, that are transmitted vertically across generations within populations over the long term, and (b) such differences in verticallytransmitted characteristics act as barriers to the horizontal diffusion of innovations from the world technological frontier. The empirical evidence over time and space is consistent with this barriers interpretation.

Suggested Citation

  • Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2007. "The Diffusion of Development," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0704, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  • Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0704
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    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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