Violence and property rights
Since the middle ages, when Europe was still at a Malthusian stage of development, interpersonal violence has been in steady decline, and institutions and norms limiting violence – in particular property rights – have expanded. Here we put forward a Malthusian model of violence where these trends can be interpreted as a response to easing population pressure, following an acceleration in technological progress. The idea is that agents rationally risk dying in violent resource competition in order to make more of their children survive starvation. Violence carries a positive externality, because those who die free up resources for survivors. This generates a socially optimal level of violence, which can be implemented with the right amount of property rights protection. It is shown that faster technological progress can lead to a decline in violence and improved property rights protection, similar to the path followed by Europe.
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