Enrico Spolaore, Romain Wacziarg, 27 June 2015

Cultural transmission occurs both vertically – from one generation to the next – and, increasingly in modern times, horizontally – within generations and across populations. Using novel data for 74 countries, this column explores how genetic relatedness between populations affects the transmission of cultural traits. A pattern of positive and significant relationships is found between genetic distance and various measures of cultural distance, including language, religion, values, and norms. This implies that populations that are ancestrally closer face lower barriers to learning new ideas and behaviours from each other.

Enrico Spolaore, Romain Wacziarg, 07 July 2009

Can trade and democracy promote peace or is armed conflict deeply rooted in cultural, ethnic, and religious differences? This column introduces a novel way to estimate the direct effect of long-term relatedness on the risk of international conflict and finds that, while democracies and open economies are less conflict-prone, the risk of conflict is actually greater among more closely related populations.

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