Persistence: Myth and Mystery

35 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2021

See all articles by Hans-Joachim Voth

Hans-Joachim Voth

University of Zurich - UBS International Center of Economics in Society; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Date Written: 2020


Is long-term economic persistence a myth? In this survey, I examine what has been learned from the wave of articles examining the persistence of economic phenomena. The article clarifies some of the concepts, distinguishes different strands of the literature, and questions the validity of recent critiques of persistence papers. While challenges in the form of misattribution and p-hacking abound, this survey concludes that persistence is real, and that future research should focus on mechanisms and the conditions under which persistence breaks down.

Keywords: persistence, economic geography, cultural transmission

JEL Classification: N00, A12, R00

Suggested Citation

Voth, Hans-Joachim, Persistence: Myth and Mystery (2020). Available at SSRN: or

Hans-Joachim Voth (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - UBS International Center of Economics in Society ( email )

Raemistrasse 71
Zuerich, 8006

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

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