Rice farming, culture and democracy

James B. Ang, Jakob B. Madsen, Wen Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This paper proposes that societies with a rice farming legacy tend to be less democratic today than societies with a wheat farming legacy. We argue that rice cultivation is associated with the adoption of a collectivist culture, which in turn fosters greater conformity pressures on political norms and deters democratization. Conversely, a wheat farming legacy leads to the development of individualism, which in turn promotes democracy. Using the rice-wheat suitability ratio for a sample of 146 countries as an exogenous variable for rice farming culture, we find that the rice-wheat suitability ratio is a deep-rooted determinant for the formation of democratic institutions through a culture of collectivism vs. individualism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103778
JournalEuropean Economic Review
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


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