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Transparency, Appropriability and the Early State

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  • Joram Mayshar

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

  • Omer Moav

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Royal Holloway University of London, and CEPR)

  • Zvika Neeman

    ()
    (Eitan Berglas School of Economics, Tel-Aviv University)

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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International School of Economics at TSU, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia in its series Working Papers with number 002-11.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tbs:wpaper:11-002

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  1. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A., 2005. "Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 385-472 Elsevier.
  2. Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1992. "Optimal Incentive Contracts in the Presence of Career Concerns: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3792, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Hicks, J. R., 1969. "A Theory of Economic History," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198811633.
  4. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2010. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," Center for Development Economics 2010-07, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised May 2011.
  5. 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.
  6. Fenske, James, 2010. "Ecology, trade and states in pre-colonial Africa," MPRA Paper 27203, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Doepke, Matthias & Townsend, Robert M, 2004. "Dynamic Mechanism Design with Hidden Income and Hidden Auctions," CEPR Discussion Papers 4455, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Oded Galor, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," GE, Growth, Math methods 0409003, EconWPA.
  9. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2005. "Land Inequality and the Emergence of Human Capital Promoting Institutions," Development and Comp Systems 0502018, EconWPA.
  10. Besley, Timothy J. & Persson, Torsten, 2007. "The Origins of State Capacity: Property Rights, Taxation, and Politics," CEPR Discussion Papers 6370, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Allen, Robert C., 1997. "Agriculture and the Origins of the State in Ancient Egypt," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 135-154, April.
  12. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  13. Alan T. Peacock & Jack Wiseman, 1961. "The Growth of Public Expenditure in the United Kingdom," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number peac61-1, October.
  14. Mayshar, Joram, 1991. " Taxation with Costly Administration," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(1), pages 75-88.
  15. Allen, Douglas & Lueck, Dean, 1992. "Contract Choice in Modern Agriculture: Cash Rent versus Cropshare," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 397-426, October.
  16. 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.
  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.
  18. Aiyar, Shekhar & Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Moav, Omer, 2006. "Technological Progress and Regress in Pre-Industrial Times," CEPR Discussion Papers 5454, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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Cited by:
  1. James Fenske, 2012. "Ecology, Trade and States in Pre-Colonial Africa," Economics Series Working Papers WPF/2012-18, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. 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).

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