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Cultural differences: Cultural differences encompass diverse norms, values, customs, and behaviors that distinguish one group from another. These variations encompass language, traditions, social structures, beliefs, and expressions, shaping unique identities and perspectives within societies and across global communities. See also Culture, Cultural traditions, Communities, Society, Conflicts, Multiculturalism.
Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Daron Acemoglu on Cultural Differences - Dictionary of Arguments

Acemoglu I 56
Cultural differences/prosperity/economy/Acemoglu/Robinson: widely accepted theory, the culture hypothesis, relates prosperity to culture. The culture hypothesis, just like the geography hypothesis, has a distinguished lineage, going back at least to the great German sociologist Max Weber, who argued that the Protestant Reformation and the Protestant ethic it spurred played a key role in facilitating the rise of modern industrial society in Western Europe. The culture hypothesis no longer relies solely on religion, but stresses other types of beliefs, values, and ethics as well.
Acemoglu I 57
Is the culture hypothesis useful for understanding world inequality? Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that social norms, which are related to culture, matter and can be hard to change, and they also sometimes support institutional differences, this book’s explanation for world inequality. But mostly no, because those aspects of culture often emphasized - religion, national ethics, African or Latin values—are just not important for understanding how we got here and why the inequalities in the world persist. Other aspects, such as the extent to which people trust each other or are able to cooperate, are important but they are mostly an outcome of institutions, not an independent cause. (...) it is not a surprise that Mexicans lack trust when their government cannot eliminate drug cartels or provide a functioning unbiased legal system.
Post-colonialism: Maybe the cultural factors that matter are not tied to religion but rather to particular “national cultures.” Perhaps it is the influence of English culture that is important and explains why countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia are so prosperous? Though this idea sounds initially appealing, it doesn’t work, either. Yes, Canada and the United States were English colonies, but so were Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The variation in prosperity within former English colonies is as great as that in the entire world. The English legacy is not the reason for the success of North America.
Acemoglu I 61
European heritage: perhaps it is not English versus non-English that matters but, rather, European versus non-European. Could it be that Europeans are superior somehow because of their work ethic, outlook on life, Judeo-Christian values, or Roman heritage?
Acemoglu I 62
Vs: (...) this version of the culture hypothesis has as little explanatory potential as the others. A greater proportion of the population of Argentina and Uruguay, compared with the population of Canada and the United States, is of European descent, but Argentina’s and Uruguay’s economic performance leaves much to be desired. Japan and Singapore never had more than a sprinkling of inhabitants of European descent, yet they are as prosperous as many parts of Western Europe.

Acemoglu I 463
Literature: Views about culture are widely spread throughout the academic literature but have never been brought together in one work. Weber (2002)(1) argued that it was the Protestant Reformation that explained why it was Europe that had the Industrial Revolution. Landes (1999)(2) proposed that Northern Europeans developed a unique set of cultural attitudes that led them to work hard, save, and be innovative. Harrison and Huntington, eds. (2000)(3), is a forceful statement of the importance of culture for comparative economic development. The notion that there is some sort of superior British culture or superior set of British institutions is widespread and used to explain U.S. exceptionalism (Fisher, 1989)(4) and also patterns of comparative development more generally (La Porta, Lopez-de-Silanes, and Shleifer, 2008)(5). The works of Banfield (1958)(6) and Putnam, Leonardi, and Nanetti (1994)(7) are very influential cultural interpretations of how one aspect of culture, or “social capital,” as they call it, makes the south of Italy poor. For a survey of how economists use notions of culture, see Guiso, Sapienza, and Zingales (2006)(8).

1.Weber, Max (2002). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: Penguin.
2. Landes, David S. (1999). The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor. New York: W. W. Norton and Co.
3.Harrison, Lawrence E., and Samuel P. Huntington, eds. (2000). Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress. New York: Basic Books.
4.Fischer, David H. (1989). Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford University Press.
5.La Porta, Rafael, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, and Andrei Shleifer (2008). “The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins.” Journal of Economic Literature 46: 285–332.
6..Banfield, Edward C. (1958). The Moral Basis of a Backward Society. Glencoe, N.Y.: Free Press.
7.Putnam, Robert H., Robert Leonardi, and Raffaella Y. Nanetti (1994). Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
8.Guiso, Luigi, Paola Sapienza, and Luigi Zingales (2006). “Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 20: 23–48.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Acemoglu II
James A. Acemoglu
James A. Robinson
Economic origins of dictatorship and democracy Cambridge 2006

Acemoglu I
James A. Acemoglu
James A. Robinson
Why nations fail. The origins of power, prosperity, and poverty New York 2012

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