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What underlies weak states? The role of terrain ruggedness

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  • Jimenez-Ayora, Pablo
  • Ulubaşoğlu, Mehmet Ali

Abstract

This article documents terrain ruggedness as an underlying cause of lack of state capacity. The paper contends that rugged topography poses significant costs to cooperation among the constituent groups within the state. This problem then translates into inability to commit to policies and under-provision of public goods, leading to such outcomes as poor protection of rule of law, limited tax revenue, civil violence, and ultimately, a weak state apparatus. Using several indicators capturing different dimensions of state capacity, the paper econometrically tests its argument in a sample of 187 independent countries and finds robust and clear evidence in favor of its reasoning. Further, the paper documents that delayed urbanization constitutes an important transmission mechanism for the significant role of terrain ruggedness in reduced state capacity.

Suggested Citation

  • Jimenez-Ayora, Pablo & Ulubaşoğlu, Mehmet Ali, 2015. "What underlies weak states? The role of terrain ruggedness," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 167-183.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:39:y:2015:i:c:p:167-183
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2015.04.014
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mikołaj Szołtysek & Radoslaw Poniat & Sebastian Klüsener & Siegfried Gruber, 2017. "Family organisation and human capital inequalities in historic Europe: testing the association anew," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2017-012, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    2. Mikołaj Szołtysek & Radoslaw Poniat & Siegfried Gruber & Sebastian Klüsener, 2016. "The Patriarchy Index: a new measure of gender and generational inequalities in the past," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2016-014, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    3. Jerg Gutmann & Stefan Voigt, 2015. "The Rule of Law: Measurement and Deep Roots," CESifo Working Paper Series 5670, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    State capacity; Terrain ruggedness; Collective action; Early urbanization;

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General

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