Does a person's historical lineage influence his or her current economic status? Motivated by a large literature in the social sciences stressing the effect of an early transition to agriculture on current economic performance at the country level, Stylianos Michalopoulos and his team examine the relative contemporary status of individuals as a function of how much their ancestors relied on agriculture during the preindustrial era. They focus on Africa, where—by combining anthropological records of groups with individual-level survey data—they can explore the effect of the historical lifeways of one's forefathers. Within enumeration areas (typically a single village or group of villages in the countryside and a city block in urban areas) as well as occupational groups, they 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.
About Quantitative History Webinar Series
A new knowledge exchange platform for researchers and students in the field of economic history. Our interactive Webinars help researchers, teachers and students to keep up to date with the latest research in the field. The Quantitative History Webinar Series is co-organized by the Asia Global Institute (AGI) and the Faculty of Business and Economics (HKU Business School) at HKU, and proudly supported by the International Society for Quantitative History.
Convenor: Professor Zhiwu Chen, HKU Business School and Asia Global Institute
Coordinator: Dr. Chicheng Ma, HKU Business School