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The Influence of Ancestral Lifeways on Individual Economic Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa

Stelios Michalopoulos (), Louis Putterman () and David Weil ()

No 2016-1, Working Papers from Brown University, Department of Economics

Abstract: We explore the role of an individual's historical lienage in determining economic status, holding constant his or her current location. This is complementary to the more common approachto studying how history shapes economic outcomes across locations. Motivated by a large literature in social sciences stressing the beneficial influence of agricultural transition on contemporary economic perfromance at the level of countries, we examine the relative status of descendants of agriculturalists vs. pastoralists. We match individual-level survey data with information on the historical lifeways of ancestors, focusing in Africa, where the transition away from such modes of production began only recently. Within enumeration areas and occupational groups, we find that individuals from ethnicities that derived a larger share of subsistence from agriculture in the pre-colonial era are today more educated and wealthy. A tentative exploration of channels suggests that differences in attitudes and beliefs as well as differential treatment by others, including less political power, may contribute to these divergent outcomes.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-dev, nep-evo, nep-gro and nep-his
Date: 2016
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Working Paper: The Influence of Ancestral Lifeways on Individual Economic Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa (2016) Downloads
Working Paper: The Influence of Ancestral Lifeways on Individual Economic Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa (2016) Downloads
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