DP11917 Geographical Origins and Economic Consequences of Language Structures

Author(s): Assaf Sarid, Oded Galor, Omer Ozak
Publication Date: March 2017
Keyword(s): Comparative development, Cultural Evolution, education, Future Tense, Grammatical Gender, Human Capital, Language Structure, Politeness Distinctions
JEL(s): D01, D03, J16, Z10, Z13
Programme Areas: Economic History, Macroeconomics and Growth
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11917

This research explores the economic causes and consequences of language structures. It advances the hypothesis and establishes empirically that variations in pre-industrial geographical characteristics that were conducive to higher returns to agricultural investment, gender gaps in agricultural productivity, and the emergence of hierarchical societies, are at the root of existing cross-language variations in the structure of the future tense and the presence of grammatical gender and politeness distinctions. Moreover, the research suggests that while language structures have largely reflected past human experience and ancestral cultural traits, they have independently affected human behavior and economic outcomes.