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From Rites to Rights: the Co-evolution of Political, Economic and Social Structures


  • Brooks Kaiser

    (Department of Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa
    Department of Economics, Gettysburg College)

  • James Roumasset

    () (Department of Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa)


It is the charge of economic history not only to explain the economic past, but to use it to enrich and develop economic theory (North, 1994). In paleoeconomics, theory plays the additional role of adding veracity of accounts based on sparse evidence through the demonstration of internal consistency. We synthesize pre-historical and historical evidence available from the settlement and modernization of the Hawaiian economy into a stylized picture of the co-evolution of production and governance structures called the governmental Kuznets curve. We explain the co-evolution with a theory of institutional change that includes the roles of resource scarcity and opportunities for internal and external economies of scale in the increasing intensification and specialization of production. These are facilitated first by a steeper and then by a flatter political organization.

Suggested Citation

  • Brooks Kaiser & James Roumasset, 2007. "From Rites to Rights: the Co-evolution of Political, Economic and Social Structures," Working Papers 200703, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hai:wpaper:200703

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    More about this item


    Paleoeconomics; governance; institutional change; Hawaiian economy; intensification; specialization;

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation

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