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Anti-Malthus: Conflict and the evolution of societies

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

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
DOI: 10.1016/j.rie.2013.09.004
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622941

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  2. Jeffrey Ely, 2010. "Local Conventions," Levine's Working Paper Archive 492, David K. Levine.
  3. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," NBER Working Papers 17037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Glenn Ellison, 2000. "Basins of Attraction, Long-Run Stochastic Stability, and the Speed of Step-by-Step Evolution," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(1), pages 17-45.
  5. 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.
  6. Foster, Dean P. & Young, H. Peyton, 2003. "Learning, hypothesis testing, and Nash equilibrium," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 73-96, October.
  7. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine & Eric Maskin, 1994. "The Folk Theorem with Imperfect Public Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2058, David K. Levine.
  8. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Malthus to Solow," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1205-1217, September.
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  10. Ingela Alger & Jörgen W. Weibull, 2010. "Kinship, Incentives, and Evolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1725-1758, September.
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  12. Coelho, Philip R. P., 1998. "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. By Jared Diamond. New York: W. W. Norton, 1997. Pp. 480. $27.50," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(04), pages 1179-1181, December.
  13. M. Kandori & G. Mailath & R. Rob, 1999. "Learning, Mutation and Long Run Equilibria in Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 500, David K. Levine.
  14. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1998. "The Theory of Learning in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061945.
  15. Hirshleifer,Jack, 2001. "The Dark Side of the Force," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521009171, December.
  16. David K. Levine & Salvatore Modica & Federico Weinschelbaum & Felipe Zurita, 2011. "Evolving to the Impatience Trap: The Example of the Farmer-Sheriff Game," Documentos de Trabajo 397, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
  17. Blume, Lawrence & Easley, David, 1992. "Evolution and market behavior," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 9-40, October.
  18. Michelle R. Garfinkel & Stergios Skaperdas, 2006. "Economics of Conflict: An Overview," Working Papers 050623, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2006.
  19. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Introductory Chapters, in: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World Princeton University Press.
  20. Michihiro Kandori, 1992. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 63-80.
  21. Michi Kandori, 2010. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Levine's Working Paper Archive 630, David K. Levine.
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