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Anarchy and Development: An Application of the Theory of Second Best

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  • Leeson Peter T.

    (George Mason University)

  • Williamson Claudia R.

    (Appalachian State University)

Abstract

Could anarchy be a constrained optimum for weak and failing states? Although a limited government that protects citizens' property rights and provides public goods may be the first-best governance arrangement for economic development, among the poorest nations such ``ideal political governance" is not an option. LDCs face a more sobering choice: ``predatory political governance" or no government at all. Many predatory governments do more to damage their citizens' welfare than to enhance it. In light of this, we show that conditional on failure to satisfy a key institutional condition required for ideal political governance—constrained politics—citizens' welfare is maximized by departing from the other conditions required for this form of governance: state-supplied law and courts, state-supplied police, and state-supplied public goods. Since departing from these conditions produces anarchy and fulfilling them when government is unconstrained producers predatory political governance, anarchy is a second best.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The Law and Development Review.

Volume (Year): 2 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 77-96

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:lawdev:v:2:y:2009:i:1:n:4

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Cited by:
  1. Boettke, Peter, 2011. "An anarchist’s reflection on the political economy of everyday life," MPRA Paper 33067, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Jürgen Wandel, 2011. "Business groups and competition in post-Soviet transition economies: The case of Russian “agroholdings”," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 403-450, December.
  3. de Groot, Olaf J. & Rablen, Matthew D. & Shortland, Anja, 2011. "Gov-Aargh-Nance – “Even Criminals Need Law And Order”," NEPS Working Papers, Network of European Peace Scientists 7/2011, Network of European Peace Scientists.
  4. Koyama, Mark, 2012. "The Law and Economics of Private Prosecutions in Industrial Revolution England," MPRA Paper 40500, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Boettke, Peter & Fink, Alexander, 2011. "Institutions first," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(04), pages 499-504, December.
  6. Leeson, Peter T. & Coyne, Christopher J., 2012. "Sassywood," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 608-620.
  7. Boettke, Peter, 2011. "Anarchism and Austrian economics," MPRA Paper 33069, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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