Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 367–386 | Cite as

Population relatedness and cross-country idea flows: evidence from book translations

  • Andrew Dickens


This paper establishes a robust relationship between idea flows across countries, as captured by book translations, and two measures of population relatedness. I argue that linguistic distance imposes a cost on idea flows, whereas genetic distance captures an incentive to communicate when dissimilar countries have more to learn from each other. Consistent with this hypothesis, I find that linguistic distance is negatively associated with book translations, whereas genetic distance is positively associated with book translations after conditioning on linguistic and geographic distance. In particular, the benchmark estimate indicates that a one standard deviation increase in linguistic distance reduces book translations by 12%, while a one standard deviation increase in genetic distance increases book translations by 10%.


Linguistic distance Genetic distance Book translations Idea flows 

JEL Classification

F10 O47 O50 Z10 

Supplementary material

10887_2018_9158_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (379 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 379 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

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