Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 397–425 | Cite as

Agricultural legacy and individualistic culture

  • James B. AngEmail author


This paper presents evidence on the relationship between traditional farming practices and the emergence of individualistic culture. It hypothesizes that agricultural legacies have a persistent effect on the prevalence of modern-day individualistic traits. Individualism emerged in societies engaged in the farming of less labor-intensive crops, whereas interdependence emerged in societies engaged in the farming of more labor-intensive crops. The empirical analyses establish that agricultural legacies have shaped the formation of individualist traits among individuals, pre-industrial ethnic groups, and countries.


Agriculture Culture Individualism Labor intensity 

JEL Classification

O30 Z1 



Valuable comments received from Eik Leong Swee, seminar participants at Nanyang Technological University and conference participants at the 5th Annual International Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Economics Research, Singapore Economic Review Conference and the Western Economic Association International Conference are greatly appreciated. Financial support from the Singapore Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund Tier 2 is gratefully acknowledged. Yixin Chen, Liu Meng, Aatishya Mohanty provide excellent research assistance. The author would also like to thank four referees and the associate editor of this journal for their very insightful comments.

Supplementary material

10887_2019_9171_MOESM1_ESM.docx (79 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 79 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, School of Social SciencesNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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