Do Cultural Roots Matter for Citizen Engagement in Government Programs? Evidence from Childhood Vaccination in Sub-saharan Africa

Laure Athias (University of Lausanne)
Moudo Macina (University of Lausanne)

Abstract : We study how past exposure to the transatlantic and Indian ocean slave trade has an impact on present attitude towards public health interventions such as vaccination programs in Sub-Saharan Africa. We elaborate on avenues for investigating causal relationship between cultural norms of mistrust inherited by mothers from different ethnic group and their children vaccination decision. We provide evidence through a rich sample of Demographic Health Survey (DHS) individual level data that ethnicity through its relationship with cultural trust is a salient causal channel. We find a negative and significant effect of slave trade on parent's likelihood to immunize their children against measles. We show that this negative effect goes both through direct vertical transmission of norms by parents and horizontal transmission from negative spillovers of living in a low trustworthy environment. There is evidence that both effects are relatively important. As for the magnitude of the effect, we find that past exposure to slave trade has a negative impact nearly offsetting the benefit from membership in the highest 20% income quantile. In addition, the associated estimates are higher than the negative effect of distance to health facility on the likelihood of immunization against measles or the positive impact of being born to an employed mother. Our calibration predicts an important decrease in measles incidence in the Hausa ethnic group form Northern Nigeria had they been a slave free group and thus inherited cooperative norms. Using different strategies, we argue that the observed linked is not picking-up the effect of pre-colonial ethnic group characteristics such as centralization or rigidity of social norms. Moreover, a falsification test with less trust sensitive disease such as malaria supports the argument that slave trade is impacting the vaccination decision through its effect on mistrust.

The Shadow of the Family: Historical Roots of Social Capital in Europe.

Maria Kravtsova (Higher School of Economics (Moscow))
Alexei Oshchepkov (Higher School of Economics (Moscow))
Christian Welzel (Leuphana University (Lueneburg))

Abstract : This study provides new evidence on how historic patterns of household formation shape present day social capital and institutions. Indeed, our study is the first to test three distinct features through which the prevalence of nuclear households favored bridging forms of social capital and impartial institutions today: (a) smaller household size in terms of the number of household members, (b) weaker loyalty bonds to extended kin, and (c) more egalitarian generational and gender relations within the household. The first part of our study covers 26 European countries that participated in the Life in Transition Survey in 2010. The second part uses historical census data for 429 sub-national regions in 5 West European and 21 East European countries. Both parts of the analyses find that more egalitarian generational and gender relations in historic family structures are clearly the decisive feature in favoring bridging forms of social capital and impartial institutions today, with an astoundingly powerful impact over large stretches of time. This result challenges the literature’s focus on household size as the most consequential characteristic of pre-industrial nuclear families.

Pre-colonial History and Colonial Rule in Myanmar: Does the Timing of Centralization Matter?

Htet Thiha Zaw (University of Michigan)

Abstract : How does the history of state-society relationship affect local development? Between the late 18-th century and the British colonial rule in 1886, the pre-colonial Burmese state appointed village headmen in the places where hereditary line of succession became extinct before British direct rule, which represents early centralization, while other places maintained hereditary village headmen before British direct rule, which represents late centralization. I construct three original datasets of pre-colonial revenue inquests, British colonial gazetteers, and geo-location of armed conflicts in Myanmar, and supplement my analysis with household survey data, geo-coded data of government schools, and nighttime satellite data, and find that the areas with relative proximity to historical towns and villages with early centralization tend to experience more contention with the colonial and the post colonial states, such as higher presence of coercive institutions and lower presence of welfare institutions that persist to the present day. In addition to focusing on a case that is underrepresented in the literature, the findings call for a further understanding of the role of colonial policy in post-colonial development by looking at its interaction with the pre-colonial history.