“Cultural assimilation, cultural diffusion and the origin of the wealth of nations”

Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor propose a cultural explanation for economic growth, but it’s not the usual story:

A thousand years ago, Asia was ahead. Why is Europe richer now? Asia was geographically less vulnerable to cultural diffusion and thus benefited from enhanced assimilation, lower cultural diversity and greater accumulation of society-specific human capital; this was an edge in the agricultural stage. Greater cultural rigidity, however, diminished the ability to adapt to a new technological paradigm, delaying their industrialisation.

Full Vox column.