Long-Run Cultural Divergence: Evidence from the Neolithic Revolution
39 Pages Posted: 5 May 2015
Date Written: May 4, 2015
This paper investigates the long-run influence of the Neolithic Revolution on contemporary cultural norms and institutions as reflected in the dimension of collectivism-individualism. We outline an agricultural origins-model of cultural divergence where we claim that the advent of farming in a core region was characterized by collectivist values and eventually triggered the out-migration of individualistic farmers towards more and more peripheral areas. This migration pattern caused the initial cultural divergence, which remained persistent over generations. The key mechanism is demonstrated in an extended Malthusian growth model that explicitly models cultural dynamics and a migration choice for individualistic farmers. Using detailed data on the date of adoption of Neolithic agriculture among Western regions and countries, the empirical findings show that the regions which adopted agriculture early also value obedience more and feel less in control of their lives. They have also had very little experience of democracy during the last century. The findings add to the literature by suggesting the possibility of extremely long lasting norms and beliefs influencing today's socioeconomic outcomes.
Keywords: culture, individualism, collectivism, Neolithic, lng-run development
JEL Classification: N50, O43
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation