PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] - “Is poverty genetic?” asked Morgan Freeman, host of the Science Channel’s Through the Wormhole. The June 4 airing of the show featured PSTC Associate and Professor of Economics Oded Galor, along with his collaborator, Quamrul Ahsraf of Williams College, drawing from their research published in the American Economic Review, “The ‘Out of Africa’ Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development.”
“Genetic diversity is responsible for about one sixth of the variations in inequality that we see across the globe—which is a huge fraction,” Galor said on the show. He and Ahsraf argue in their paper that intermediate levels of diversity in societies are most conducive for development, reflecting the trade-off between the beneficial and the detrimental effects of diversity on productivity. While diversity is associated with a lack of trust and non-cohesiveness, diverse societies are able to cope with a rapidly changing technological environment and to benefit from greater innovations.