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Roots of Autocracy

Author

Listed:
  • Oded Galor
  • Marc Klemp

Abstract

This research explores the origins of the variation in the prevalence and nature of political institutions across globe. It advances the hypothesis and establishes empirically that variation in the inherent diversity across human societies, as determined in the course of the exodus of Homo sapiens from Africa tens of thousands of years ago, shaped the nature of political institutions across regions and societies. The study establishes that, while human diversity has amplified the beneficial e?ects of institutions, mitigating the adverse e?ects of non-cohesiveness, its simultaneous contribution to heterogeneity in cognitive and physical traits has fostered the scope for domination, leading to the formation and persistence of autocratic institutions. A larger degree of human diversity within societies diminished cohesiveness and therefore stimulated the emergence of institutions that have mitigated the adverse e?ects of non-cohesiveness on productivity. However, the dual impact of human diversity on the emergence of inequality and class stratification have diverted the nature of the emerging institutions towards extractive, autocratic ones. Developing a novel geo-referenced dataset of genetic diversity and ethnographic characteristics among ethnic groups across the globe, the analysis establishes that genetic diversity contributed to the emergence of autocratic pre-colonial institutions. Moreover, the findings suggest that the contribution of diversity to these pre-colonial autocratic institutions has plausibly operated through its dual e?ect on the formation of institutions and class stratification. Furthermore, reflecting the persistence of institutional, cultural, and genetic characteristics, the spatial distribution of genetic diversity across the globe has contributed to the contemporary variation in the degree of autocracy across countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Oded Galor & Marc Klemp, 2015. "Roots of Autocracy," Working Papers 2015-7, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bro:econwp:2015-7
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    1. Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176.
    2. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2003-2041, August.
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    9. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2009. "Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 143-179.
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    Cited by:

    1. Xue, Melanie Meng & Koyama, Mark, 2018. "Autocratic Rule and Social Capital: Evidence from Imperial China," MPRA Paper 84249, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Alesina, A. & Passalacqua, A., 2016. "The Political Economy of Government Debt," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 2599-2651, Elsevier.
    3. Faria, Hugo J. & Montesinos-Yufa, Hugo M. & Morales, Daniel R. & Navarro, Carlos E., 2016. "Unbundling the roles of human capital and institutions in economic development," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 45(S), pages 108-128.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Autocracy; Economic Growth; Genetic Diversity; Institutions; Out-of-Africa Hypothesis of Comparative Development;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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