15 de Abril, 2019
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Romain Wacziarg, professor of Economics at the University of California at Los Angeles, gave the Keynote Address of the 8th NCID Research Workshop titled Historical Barriers to the Wealth of Nations. “If you look at year 1 of the common era countries with most advanced technologies —military, etc— are still the most advanced today. Over centuries and millennia you have this consistence”, started Prof. Wacizarg. “The idea is that as populations moved from East Africa and conquered the world, different groups split from each other. There more recently they have split the closer they will be culturally”, he added. He shed optimism for the development of poor countries: “The obstacles that culture does to the spread of modernity are temporary. They can be overcomed, the effect of barriers can be reduced. Countries far from innovation can ultimately innovate”. Prof. Wacziarg spoke about language distance as well as fertility rates, which affect cultural distance between countries. The speaker also introduced democracy as another factor to be considered. Today democracy is in retreat. Being close to innovator in terms of cultural distance —lingüistic, genetic, historical— meant democracy spread faster. Furthermore, war is an intracultural phenomenon rather than between cultures. The closer the cultural distance between, the more likely to fight with each other. “Ancestral barriers can have good effects, but also potentiate negative effects”, he explained. “Ancestral barriers exist and cultural distances affect the development of nations, but the message I want to leave is that these barriers can be overcomed”, finalized Prof. Wacziarg.