Abstract: Abstract This research advances the hypothesis that natural land productivity in the past, and its effect on the desirable level of cooperation in the agricultural sector, had a persistent effect on the evolution of social capital, the process of industrialization and comparative economic development across the globe. Exploiting exogenous sources of variations in land productivity across (a) countries; (b) individuals within a country, (c) migrants of different ancestry within a country, and (d) individuals residing in regions within a country, the research establishes that lower level of land productivity in the past is associated with more intense cooperation and higher levels of contemporary social capital and development.