CFP.Global Patterns in Family Structures and Their Impact on Development World Economic History Conference, Kyoto, 3-7 August 2015

Global Patterns in Family Structures and Their Impact on Development
World Economic History Conference, Kyoto, 3-7 August 2015

Session Organizers:
Claude Diebolt (Université de Strasbourg)
Selin Dilli (Utrecht University)
Auke Rijpma (Utrecht University)

Historical legacies have long-term impacts that continue to be felt to this day (Nunn 2009). Although historical institutions (e.g, colonial institutions, religion) have been the subject of extensive research, micro-institutions such as the family have received less attention. As the main vehicle of socialization and thus the transmission of behaviour and values, family deserves attention as a crucial determinant of development both in socio-economic and political terms. For instance, Greif & Tabellini (2010) and Greif (2006) claimed that while nuclear family types in Western Europe have led to the emergence of institutions such as guilds and universities, China’s communitarian family structures resulted in the emergence of institutions based on kinship relations. They claim these differences in family structure contributed to the diverging economic development between the two regions. Likewise, De Moor and Van Zanden (2010) link the emergence of the European Marriage Pattern with development in medieval and early modern Europe. This link between family and development received more support by Duranton et al. (2009) who provided evidence on the role of regional variation in Europe in terms of family structures and present-day development outcomes (e.g., GDP per capita, educational achievement, fertility). Alesina and Giuliano (2010) showed that family ties are a strong predictor of (female) labor force participation and political participation, while Galasso and Profeta (2010) showed a link between family organisation and pension systems. Finally, the “quantity-quality tradeoff” argument highlights the link between household structure (in particular family size) and human capital formation (Diebolt and Perrin 2013). However, more research is required to understand the mechanisms through which family structures have an impact on (current) development outcomes. One of the main difficulties is due to the scarcity of historical data to capture global variation in family structures.

We invite proposals on the variation in family structures between societies and its relation to global development patterns. Although we focus on the past two centuries, we welcome proposals on all periods. More particularly, the session will focus on the following questions:
– How do societies differ from one another in terms of how families have historically been formed?
– Does historical family organisation have a persistent effect on (current) political, economic, and social development? Does the effect of family change over time?

Abstract should be no longer than 500 words and sent to and/or to by the 28th of February.

If you have any queries about the above please contact Selin Dilli –

This session is made possible by the NWO-funded project: Agency, Gender, and Economic Development in the World Economy, 1850-2000:…/fi…/AgencyEfficiencyWorldEconomyv10.pdf). For further information about the World Economic History Conference please visit: