The Evolution of Culture and Institutions: Evidence from the Kuba Kingdom
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.
A number of individuals provided valuable help during the project. We thank Anne Degrave, James Diderich, Muana Kasongo, Eduardo Montero, Roger Makombo, Jim Mukenge, Eva Ng, Matthew Summers, Adam Xu, and Jonathan Yantzi. For comments, we thank Ran Abramitzky, Chris Blattman, Jean Ensminger, James Fenske, Raquel Fernandez, Carolina Ferrerosa-Young, Avner Greif, Joseph Henrich, Karla Hoff, Christine Kenneally, Alexey Makarin, Anselm Rink, Noam Yuchtman, as well as participants at numerous conferences and seminars. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Pershing Square Venture Fund for Research on the Foundations of Human Behavior and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
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. citation courtesy of