April 2023

IZA DP No. 16068: The Impact of the Prehistoric Out of Africa Migration on Cultural Diversity

Oded Galor, Marc Klemp, Daniel Crisóstomo Wainstock

Evidence suggests that the Out of Africa Migration has impacted the degree of intra-population genetic and phenotypic diversity across the globe. This paper provides the first evidence that this migration has shaped cultural diversity. Leveraging a folklore catalogue of 958 oral traditions across the world, we show that ethnic groups further away from East Africa along the migratory routes have lower folkloric diversity. This pattern is consistent with the compression of genetic, phenotypic, and phonemic traits along the Out of Africa migration routes, setting conditions for the emergence and proliferation of differential cultural diversity and economic development across the world.