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Does Culture Matter for Development?

date Date: November 1, 2014
date Author(s): Augusto Lopez, Claros Valeria Perotti
date Affiliation: World Bank
Abstract

Economists have either avoided or struggled with the concept of culture and its role in economic development. Although a few theoretical works—and even fewer empirical studies—have appeared in the past decades, this paper tries to build on a multidisciplinary approach to review the evidence on whether and how culture matters for development. First, the paper reviews available definitions of culture and illustrates ways in which culture can change and create favorable conditions for economic development. Second, the paper discusses the challenges of separating the effect of culture from other drivers of human behavior such as incentives, the availability of information, or climate. Finally, the paper argues that globalization has led to the emergence of a set of progressive values that are common cultural traits of all developed economies.

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