DP6824 Human Genetic Diversity and Comparative Economic Development

Author(s): Quamrul H. Ashraf, Oded Galor
Publication Date: May 2008
Keyword(s): Comparative development, Human genetic diversity, Land productivity, Malthusian stagnation, Neolithic Revolution, Population density
JEL(s): N10, N30, N50, O10, O50, Z10
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=6824

This research contributes to the understanding of human genetic diversity within a society as a significant determinant of its economic development. The hypothesis advanced and empirically examined in this paper suggests that there are socioeconomic trade-offs associated with genetic diversity within a given society. The investigation exploits an exogenous source of cross-country variation in genetic diversity by appealing to the "out of Africa" hypothesis of human origins to empirically establish a highly statistically significant and robust non-monotonic effect of genetic diversity on development outcomes in the pre-colonial era. Contrary to theories that reject a possible role for human genetics in influencing economic development, this study demonstrates the economic significance of diversity in genetic traits, while abstaining entirely from conceptual frameworks that posit a hierarchy of such traits in terms of their conduciveness to the process of economic development.