Ancestry and Development: New Evidence
We revisit the relationship between ancestral distance and barriers to the diffusion of development using a new genomic dataset on human microsatellite variation. With this new data we confirm past findings of a statistically and economically significant effect of ancestral distance from the technological frontier on income per capita. The historical pattern of the effect is hump shaped, peaking between 1870 and 1913, and declining steeply afterwards. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that ancestral distance acts as a temporary barrier to the diffusion of innovations and development.