American Economic Review: Vol. 102 No. 4 (June 2012)


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The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity

Article Citation

Michalopoulos, Stelios. 2012. "The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity." American Economic Review, 102(4): 1508-39.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.102.4.1508


This study explores the determinants of ethnolinguistic diversity within as well as across countries, shedding light on its geographic origins. The empirical analysis conducted across countries, virtual countries, and pairs of contiguous regions establishes that geographic variability, captured by variation in regional land quality and elevation, is a fundamental determinant of contemporary linguistic diversity. The findings are consistent with the proposed hypothesis that differences in land endowments gave rise to location-specific human capital, leading to the formation of localized ethnicities. (JEL J15, J24, Z13)

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Michalopoulos, Stelios (Brown U)

JEL Classifications

J15: Economics of Minorities, Races, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
J24: Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
Z13: Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification

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