Kin-Based Institutions and Economic Development
126 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2022 Last revised: 28 Apr 2023
Date Written: August 25, 2022
Kin-based institutions are the set of social norms governing descent, marriage, and post-marital residence. We establish a robust and economically significant negative association between the tightness and breadth of kin-based institutions---their kinship intensity---and economic development. To measure kinship intensity and economic development, we deploy genotypic measures and quantified ethnographic observations on kinship with data on satellite nighttime luminosity and regional GDP. Our results are robust to controlling for a suite of geographic and cultural variables and hold across countries, within countries at both the regional and ethnolinguistic levels, and within countries in a spatial regression discontinuity analysis. Considering potential mechanisms, we discuss evidence consistent with mediating roles for the division of labor, trust, institutions and innovation.
Keywords: kin-based institutions, cousin marriage, inbreeding coefficient, cultural evolution, economic development
JEL Classification: D01, J12, J16, N30, Z12, Z13
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