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Transparency, Appropriability and the Early State

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  • Mayshar, Joram
  • Moav, Omer
  • Neeman, Zvika

Abstract

We propose a general theory that explains the extent of the state and accounts for related institutions as byproducts of the state's extractive technology. We posit further that this extractive technology is determined by the transparency of the production technology. This theory is applied to examine two principal phases in the evolution of the early state. First, we argue that the common explanation of the emergence of the state as a consequence of the availability of food surplus due to the Neolithic Revolution is flawed, since it ignores Malthusian considerations. In contrast, we suggest that what led to the emergence of the state was a transformation of the tax technology that was induced by the greater transparency of the new farming technology. We then apply our theory to explain key institutional features that distinguished ancient Egypt from ancient Mesopotamia, and, in particular, to explain their different land tenure regimes.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8548.

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Date of creation: Aug 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8548

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Keywords: Appropriability; Institutions; Land Tenure; The Early State; Transparency;

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References

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  1. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," NBER Working Papers 17037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
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  13. Mayshar, Joram, 1991. " Taxation with Costly Administration," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(1), pages 75-88.
  14. Ackerberg, Daniel A. & Botticini, Maristella, 2000. "The Choice of Agrarian Contracts in Early Renaissance Tuscany: Risk Sharing, Moral Hazard, or Capital Market Imperfections?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 241-257, July.
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  17. Domar, Evsey D., 1970. "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(01), pages 18-32, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Angelucci, Charles & Meraglia, Simone, 2013. "Trade, Self-Governance,and the Provision of Law and Order, with an Application To Medieval English Chartered Towns," TSE Working Papers 13-443, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  2. Fenske, James, 2010. "Ecology, trade and states in pre-colonial Africa," MPRA Paper 27203, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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