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Anti-Malthus: Conflict and the evolution of societies

  • Levine, David K.
  • Modica, Salvatore
Registered author(s):

    The Malthusian theory of evolution disregards a pervasive fact about human societies: they expand through conflict. When this is taken account of the long-run favors not a large population at the level of subsistence, nor yet institutions that maximize welfare or per capita output, but rather institutions that generate large amount of free resources and direct these towards state power. Free resources are the output available to society after deducting the payments necessary for subsistence and for the incentives needed to induce production, and the other claims to production such as transfer payments and resources absorbed by elites. We develop the evolutionary underpinnings of this model, and examine the implications for the evolution of societies in several applications. Since free resources are increasing both in per capita income and population, evolution will favor large rich societies. We will show how technological improvement can increase or decrease per capita output as well as increasing population.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1090944313000434
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research in Economics.

    Volume (Year): 67 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 289-306

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:reecon:v:67:y:2013:i:4:p:289-306
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622941

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    1. Garfinkel, Michelle R. & Skaperdas, Stergios, 2007. "Economics of Conflict: An Overview," Handbook of Defense Economics, Elsevier.
    2. Michi Kandori, 2010. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Levine's Working Paper Archive 630, David K. Levine.
    3. Fudenberg, D. & Levine, D.K. & Maskin, E., 1989. "The Folk Theorem With Inperfect Public Information," Working papers 523, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    4. Peyton Young, 2002. "Learning Hypothesis Testing and Nash Equilibrium," Economics Working Paper Archive 474, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    5. Jeffrey C. Ely, 2002. "Local Conventions," Discussion Papers 1349, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    6. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1998. "The Theory of Learning in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061945, June.
    7. Federico Weinschelbaum & David K. Levine & Salvatore Modica & Felipe Zurita, 2010. "Evolving to the Impatience Trap: The Example of the Farmer-Sheriff Game," Working Papers 109, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Aug 2011.
    8. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 1999. "Malthus to Solow," Staff Report 257, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    9. Ingela Alger & J�rgen W. Weibull, 2010. "Kinship, Incentives, and Evolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1725-58, September.
    10. Ellison, Glenn, 2000. "Basins of Attraction, Long-Run Stochastic Stability, and the Speed of Step-by-Step Evolution," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 17-45, January.
    11. Dincecco, Mark & Federico, Giovanni & Vindigni, Andrea, 2011. "Warfare, Taxation, and Political Change: Evidence from the Italian Risorgimento," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(04), pages 887-914, December.
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    16. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521009171 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Levine, David K. & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 2007. "The evolution of cooperation through imitation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 293-315, February.
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    20. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
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