Culture and Economic Development.
This dissertation contains four chapters on comparative development, political economy, public economics and migration with focus on cultural values. The first chapter investigates the ancient origins of differences of cultural traits across countries; in particular, using a large set of measures of culture it identifies the cultural traits associated with genetic distances. The second chapter explores the direct and barrier effects of culture on economic development; it shows both theoretically and empirically that whenever the technological frontier is at the top or bottom of the world distribution of a cultural value, there exists an observational equivalence between absolute cultural distances and cultural distances relative to the frontier, preventing the identification of its direct and barrier effects. The third chapter investigates the relationship between national identity and public goods provision across wide range of countries; it challenges the conventional wisdom on the role of nation building as a mean for mitigating the adverse effect of fractionalization, suggesting that most of the time it is used as a tool to divert the attention of its citizens from most pressing issues, such as provision of elementary public goods. The fourth chapter explores the effect of cultural traits on migration; in particular, it investigates the effect of values, beliefs and attitudes on the intention to emigrate from Europe and Central Asia; it provides new insights into the determinants of international migration, revealing some of its less known consequences.