Macrohistory Seminar – Giorgio Chiovelli (London Business School) Bite and Divide: Malaria and Ethnolinguistic Diversity

Event details

  • | Thursday, December 6
  • 12:15 PM
  • Kaiserplatz 7-9, 4th floor, Room 4.006
Bite and Divide: Malaria and Ethnolinguistic Diversity by Giorgio Chiovelli.

We investigate, both theoretically and empirically, the epidemiological origins of ethnic diversity and its persistence. Long-term exposure to malaria shaped genetic and cultural selection by increasing the benefits of interacting in small, geographically separated and highly endogamic groups. Using disaggregate level data, we document the role of ancestral malaria for pre-colonial and historical ethnic diversity. The findings provide a new explanation for the intense African ethnic phenomenon. No effect of malaria on pre-colonial ethnic groups is detected in the New World, where the pathogen was absent before European colonization. Using DHS survey data, and information on movers living outside their ethnic homelands, we identify the persistent effect of ancestral malaria for endogamic marriages today. The results suggest that, even in the absence of a direct effect from malaria today, ancestral exposure to malaria still affects the persistence of ethnicities through its legacy of strong ethnic identities and active endogamic ethnic cultures.

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