Parasitical cultures? The cultural origins of institutions and development

Robbert Maseland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Do cultural attitudes affect institutions and economic performance? This paper suggests they do. To measure the impact of cultural attitudes we use prevalence rates of the common parasite Toxoplasma gondii which is known to affect individual attitudes and societal values in predictable ways. By using prevalence rates of Toxoplasma as instrument for cultural variation, we are able to isolate the effects of cultural attitudes on institutions, distinguishing them from effects of institutions and economic outcomes on culture. We find that our indicators of cultural attitudes are significant determinants of institutional quality, and strong predictors of long-run economic performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-136
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Economic Growth
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2013

Keywords

  • Economic development
  • Institutions
  • Culture
  • Pathogens
  • TOXOPLASMA-GONDII INFECTION
  • ECONOMIC-DEVELOPMENT
  • HUMAN-BEHAVIOR
  • CONGENITAL TOXOPLASMOSIS
  • LATENT TOXOPLASMOSIS
  • LABORATORY RATS
  • LEGAL ORIGINS
  • MICE
  • PREVALENCE
  • GROWTH

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