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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. 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.
  2. Gibbons, R. & Murphy, K.J., 1990. "Optimal Incentive Contracts In The Presence Of Career Concerns: Theory And Evidence," Working papers 563, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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  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. James Kau & Paul Rubin, 1981. "The size of government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 261-274, January.
  6. 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.
  7. Doepke, Matthias & Townsend, Robert M., 2006. "Dynamic mechanism design with hidden income and hidden actions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 235-285, January.
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  10. James Fenske, 2012. "Ecology, trade and states in pre-colonial Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2012-18, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
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  16. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2005. "Land Inequality and the Emergence of Human Capital Promoting Institutions," Development and Comp Systems 0502018, EconWPA.
  17. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew M. Warner, 1995. "Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 5398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. James Fenske, 2012. "Ecology, trade and states in pre-colonial Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2012-18, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  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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