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Journal Article

Is Poverty in Our Genes?: A Critique of Ashraf and Galor, “The ‘Out of Africa’ Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development,” American Economic Review (Forthcoming)

Jade d’Alpoim Guedes, Theodore C. Bestor, David Carrasco, Rowan Flad, Ethan Fosse, Michael Herzfeld, Carl C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, Cecil M. Lewis, Matthew Liebmann, Richard Meadow, Nick Patterson, Max Price, Meredith Reiches, Sarah Richardson, Heather Shattuck-Heidorn, Jason Ur, Gary Urton and Christina Warinner
Current Anthropology
Vol. 54, No. 1 (February 2013), pp. 71-79
DOI: 10.1086/669034
Stable URL:
Page Count: 9
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We present a critique of a paper written by two economists, Quamrul Ashraf and Oded Galor, which is forthcoming in the American Economic Review and which was uncritically highlighted in Science magazine. Their paper claims there is a causal effect of genetic diversity on economic success, positing that too much or too little genetic diversity constrains development. In particular, they argue that “the high degree of diversity among African populations and the low degree of diversity among Native American populations have been a detrimental force in the development of these regions.” We demonstrate that their argument is seriously flawed on both factual and methodological grounds. As economists and other social scientists begin exploring newly available genetic data, it is crucial to remember that nonexperts broadcasting bold claims on the basis of weak data and methods can have profoundly detrimental social and political effects.

Notes and References

This item contains 75 references.

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