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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 21907, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Does a person's historical lineage influence his or her current economic status? Motivated by a large literature in social sciences stressing the effect of an early transition to agriculture on current economic performance at the level of countries, we examine the relative contemporary status of individuals as a function of how much their ancestors relied on agriculture during the pre-industrial era. We focus on Africa, where by combining anthropological records of groups with individual level survey data we can explore the effect of the historical lifeways of one's forefathers. Within enumeration areas and occupational groups, we find that individuals from ethnicities that derived a larger share of subsistence from agriculture in the precolonial 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 differential political power, may contribute to these divergent outcomes.

JEL-codes: O1 O13 O40 Z00 Z1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-evo and nep-his
Date: 2016-01
Note: DEV EFG POL
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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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