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Ancestry and Development: New Evidence


  • Enrico Spolaore
  • Romain Wacziarg


We revisit the relation between ancestral distance and barriers to the diffusion of development using a new genomic dataset on human microsatellite variation. With these new data we find a statistically and economic significant effect of ancestral distance from the technological frontier on income per capita, controlling for geographic factors, climatic differences, continental fixed effects and genetic diversity within populations. The historical pattern of the effect is hump shaped, peaking between 1870 and 1913, and declining steeply afterwards. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that ancestral distance acts as a temporary barrier to the diffusion of innovations and development.

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  • Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2016. "Ancestry and Development: New Evidence," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0820, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  • Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0820

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    1. 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.
    2. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2011. "Robust Inference With Multiway Clustering," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(2), pages 238-249, April.
    3. Louis Putterman & David N. Weil, 2010. "Post-1500 Population Flows and The Long-Run Determinants of Economic Growth and Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1627-1682.
    4. Fearon, James D, 2003. "Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 195-222, June.
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    23. Bakker, Jan & Maurer, Stephan & Pischke, Jorn-Steffen & Rauch, Ferdinand, 2020. "Of mice and merchants: connectedness and the location of economic activity in the Iron Age," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 103007, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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