Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers in Economics,
University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics

No 714: The Origins of Cultural Divergence: Evidence from a Developing Country

Hoang-Anh Ho (), Peter Martinsson () and Ola Olsson ()
Additional contact information
Hoang-Anh Ho: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University, Postal: P.O. Box 640, SE 40530 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Peter Martinsson: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University, Postal: P.O. Box 640, SE 40530 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Ola Olsson: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University, Postal: P.O. Box 640, SE 40530 GÖTEBORG, Sweden

Abstract: Cultural norms diverge substantially across societies, often even within the same country. In the present paper, we study the voluntary settlement hypothesis, proposing that individualistic people tend to self-select into migrating out of reach from collectivist states towards the periphery and that such patterns of historical migration are reflected even in the contemporary distribution of norms. During most of the first millennium CE, the modern north of Vietnam was under an exogenously imposed Chinese rule. From the eleventh to the eighteenth centuries, historical Vietnam gradually expanded its territory to the Mekong River Delta through various waves of conquest and migration. In contrast to some recent research, we find very little support from historical sources for any major discontinuities in this territorial expansion. Combining archives with household survey and lab-in-the-field experiment, we demon- strate that areas being annexed earlier into historical Vietnam are nowadays more (less) prone to collectivist (individualist) culture. We argue that the southward out-migration of individualistic people was the main mechanism behind this finding, which is also in line with many historical accounts.

Keywords: Culture; Individualism-Collectivism; Voluntary Settlement

JEL-codes: N45; O53; Z13

45 pages, December 2017

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