Colonialism and genetics of comparative development

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

This study argues that European colonial policies and former colonies’ genetic variation (genetic distance to Europeans and genetic diversity) were interlinked. Over a prolonged period of time, populations that were genetically far from Europeans and had extreme levels of genetic diversity (e.g. in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas) adapted to environments that were significantly different from the climatic conditions of continental Europe. This resulted in a divergence in populations’ resistance to infectious diseases and positive relationships between European settler mortality at the time of colonization, genetic distance to the technological frontier, and genetic diversity. I evaluate the consequences of the aforementioned relationships first, for the role of genetic distance and diversity in development (e.g. Spolaore and Wacziarg, 2009; Ashraf and Galor, 2013), and second, for studies that use European settler mortality as an instrument for institutions (e.g. Acemoglu et al., 2001). The results highlight a potential bias in the estimates of the effect of genetic distance and diversity on contemporary development in a sample of former colonies and suggest that the effect of these measures on current economic and institutional outcomes is indirect and works through Europeans’ colonial policies.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles