Historical Group Divergence and Cultural Persistence: Evidence from the Neolithic Revolution

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This paper investigates long term influence of the Neolithic Revolution, an important historical event during which humans adopted agriculture for the first time, on the current regional cultural differences. A series of arguments presented in the paper claims that the advent of agriculture and subsequent migration of agriculturalists likely triggered the initial cultural divergence, which remained persistent over generations. Using novel Neolithic vegetation variation data and initial agricultural adoption dates, the empirical findings support the arguments and show that the regions which adopted agriculture early also value obedience more, a definitive cultural trait found in collectivist, hierarchical societies. The main finding remains robust to a series of both historical and contemporaneous variables, and adds to the literature which suggest the possibility of extremely long lasting norms and beliefs influencing today's socioeconomic outcomes.