NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change

Paola Giuliano, Nathan Nunn

NBER Working Paper No. 23617
Issued in July 2017, Revised in February 2019
NBER Program(s):The Political Economy Program

We examine a determinant of cultural persistence that has emerged from a class of models in evolutionary anthropology: the similarity of the environment across generations. Within these models, when the environment is more similar across generations, the traits that have evolved up to the previous generation are more likely to be optimal for the current generation. In equilibrium, a greater value is placed on tradition and there is greater cultural persistence. We test this hypothesis by measuring the variability of different climatic measures across 20-year generations from 500–1900. Employing a variety of tests, each using different samples and empirical strategies, we find that populations with ancestors who lived in environments with more cross-generational instability place less importance in maintaining tradition today and exhibit less cultural persistence.

download in pdf format
   (4436 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23617

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Giuliano w23635 Gender: An Historical Perspective
Enke w23499 Kinship, Cooperation, and the Evolution of Moral Systems
Bailey, Cao, Kuchler, Stroebel, and Wong w23608 Measuring Social Connectedness
Bolton and Huang w23612 The Capital Structure of Nations
Acemoglu and Robinson w23657 The Emergence of Weak, Despotic and Inclusive States
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us