NBER Publications by Louis Putterman

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Working Papers and Chapters

January 2016The Influence of Ancestral Lifeways on Individual Economic Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa
with Stelios Michalopoulos, David N. Weil: w21907
We explore the role of an individual’s historical lineage in determining economic status, holding constant his or her current location. This is complementary to the more common approach to studying how history shapes economic outcomes across locations. Motivated by a large literature in social sciences stressing the beneficial influence of agricultural transition on contemporary economic performance at the level of countries, we examine the relative status of descendants of agriculturalists vs. pastoralists. We match individual-level survey data with information on the historical lifeways of ancestors, focusing on Africa, where the transition away from such modes of production began only recently. Within enumeration areas and occupational groups, we find that individuals from ethnicities t...
October 2008Post-1500 Population Flows and the Long Run Determinants of Economic Growth and Inequality
with David N. Weil: w14448
We construct a matrix showing the share of the year 2000 population in every country that is descended from people in different source countries in the year 1500. Using this matrix, we analyze how post-1500 migration has influenced the level of GDP per capita and within-country income inequality in the world today. Indicators of early development such as early state history and the timing of transition to agriculture have much better predictive power for current GDP when one looks at the ancestors of the people who currently live in a country than when one considers the history on that country's territory, without adjusting for migration. Measures of the ethnic or linguistic heterogeneity of a country's current population do not predict income inequality as well as measures of the eth...

Published: 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, MIT Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1627-1682, November. citation courtesy of

May 2008Institutions and Behavior: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Democracy
with Pedro Dal Bó, Andrew Foster: w13999
A novel experiment is used to show that the effect of a policy on the level of cooperation is greater when it is chosen democratically by the subjects than when it is exogenously imposed. In contrast to the previous literature, our experimental design allows us to control for selection effects (e.g. those who choose the policy may be affected differently by it). Our finding implies that democratic institutions may affect behavior directly in addition to having effects through the choice of policies. Our findings have implications for the generalizability of the results of randomized policy interventions.

Published: Pedro Dal Bo & Andrew Foster & Louis Putterman, 2010. "Institutions and Behavior: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Democracy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2205-29, December. citation courtesy of

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers onlyInformation about this author at RePEc

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