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The Origins of Governments: From Amorphy to Anarchy and Hierarchy

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Author Info

  • Matthew Baker

    (Department of Economics, Hunter College - City University of New York)

  • Erwin Bulte

    (Development Economics Group, Wageningen University)

  • Jacob Weisdorf

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

We analyze development trajectories of early civilizations where population size and technology are endogenous, and derive conditions under which such societies optimally “switch” from anarchy to hierarchy – when it is optimal to elect and support a ruler. The ruler provides an efficient level of law and order, but creams off part of society’s surplus for his own consumption. Switching to hierarchy occurs if the state of technology exceeds a threshold value, but societies may also be “trapped” at lower levels of technology – perpetuating conditions of anarchy. We present empirical evidence based on the Standard Cross Cultural Sample that support the model’s main predictions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 06-25.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0625

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Related research

Keywords: origins of institutions; common defense; raiding; hunter-gatherers; SCCS;

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