Ancestry, Language and Culture

47 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2015

See all articles by Enrico Spolaore

Enrico Spolaore

Tufts University - Department of Economics

Romain T. Wacziarg

UCLA Anderson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2015

Abstract

We explore the interrelationships between various measures of cultural distance. We …first discuss measures of genetic distance, used in the recent economics literature to capture the degree of relatedness between countries. We next describe several classes of measures of linguistic, religious, and cultural distances. We introduce new measures of cultural distance based on differences in average answers to questions from the World Values Survey. Using a simple theoretical model we hypothesize that ancestral distance, measured by genetic distance, is positively correlated with linguistic, religious, and cultural distance. An empirical exploration of these correlations shows this to be the case. This empirical evidence is consistent with the view that genetic distance is a summary statistic for a wide array of cultural traits transmitted intergenerationally.

Keywords: Ancestry, Barriers, Cladistics, Cultural distance, Genetic distance, Linguistic distance, Religious distance, World Values Survey

JEL Classification: F14, O11, O33, O47, O57, Z1

Suggested Citation

Spolaore, Enrico and Wacziarg, Romain T., Ancestry, Language and Culture (June 2015). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP10644. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2615884

Enrico Spolaore (Contact Author)

Tufts University - Department of Economics ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States

Romain T. Wacziarg

UCLA Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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