Rational Bandits: Plunder, Public Goods, and the Vikings
The paper applies and extends insights from Mancur Olson's study of state making to the Vikings. In a world of roving bandits, a sub-optimal provision of public goods exists, most notably of security. Roving banditry leads to over-plundering and zero profits for the plunderers, which makes stationary banditry profitable. The most efficient bandits monopolize violence, begin to tax and provide some amounts of public goods in order to stimulate economic growth. The analysis demonstrates how the Vikings' activities and settlements are consistent with such an explanation, with the dynamics of the process being reflected in the variation in the number of raids and the amount of wealth extracted. Copyright 2003 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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