Culture matters for economic development. This postulate has been a main conceptual concern for “old” institutional economics (OIE) and has lately also been tested through neoclassically inspired econometric techniques. This conceptual foundation has been confirmed in several quantitative studies on developed countries, in particular cases from the USA, Germany, and Italy. In less developed regions with a wealth of cultural heritage, particularly in South-East Europe, this postulate is still an underexplored issue from the perspective of advanced econometric approaches. Our goal is to examine the impact of the so-called South-East European cultural corridors on welfare — and especially on total employment — at the local or regional level. Accounting for gross value added and sectoral specialization, we examine the effect of such corridors by considering the distance to a cultural corridor: namely, the East Trans-Balkan Road (crossing Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece) as an explanatory factor for regional development, particularly employment. Using the European University Institute (EUI) European Regional Dataset (ERD), as well as the geo-data from the Cultural Corridors of the South-East Europe website, we estimate a regression model using a 2SLS instrumental variable (IV) approach, with a pooled dataset at the NUTS 3 level (Eurostat) from 1980 to 2011. We then triangulate the results by using the distance to the cultural corridor concerned as a treatment effect in a propensity-score-matching and difference-in-differences exploratory analysis. The findings confirm the importance of distance to the cultural corridor under investigation as a strong predictor for local socio-economic development. The results further suggest that the slow evolution of culture over time is likely to lead to the gradual emergence of new geographical cultural centers and a new cultural path-dependence build-up of persistence chains.
Tubadji, A., & Nijkamp, P. (2018). Cultural corridors: An analysis of persistence in impacts on local development — A neo-Weberian perspective on South-East Europe. Journal of Economic Issues, 52(1), 173-204. https://doi.org/10.1080/00213624.2018.1430948