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The Origins of Governments: From Amorphy to Anarchy and Hierarchy

Author

Listed:
  • Matthew Baker

    (Department of Economics, Hunter College - City University of New York)

  • Erwin Bulte

    (Development Economics Group, Wageningen University)

  • Jacob Weisdorf

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

We analyze development trajectories of early civilizations where population size and technology are endogenous, and derive conditions under which such societies optimally “switch” from anarchy to hierarchy – when it is optimal to elect and support a ruler. The ruler provides an efficient level of law and order, but creams off part of society’s surplus for his own consumption. Switching to hierarchy occurs if the state of technology exceeds a threshold value, but societies may also be “trapped” at lower levels of technology – perpetuating conditions of anarchy. We present empirical evidence based on the Standard Cross Cultural Sample that support the model’s main predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Baker & Erwin Bulte & Jacob Weisdorf, 2006. "The Origins of Governments: From Amorphy to Anarchy and Hierarchy," Discussion Papers 06-25, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0625
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    File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/2006/0625.pdf/
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    Cited by:

    1. Tisdell, Clem & Svizzero, Serge, 2015. "The Malthusian Trap and Development in Pre-Industrial Societies: A View Differing from the Standard One," Social Economics, Policy and Development Working Papers 197551, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
    2. Rowthorn, Robert & Seabright, Paul, 2010. "Property Rights, Warfare and the Neolithic Transition," TSE Working Papers 10-207, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    origins of institutions; common defense; raiding; hunter-gatherers; SCCS;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation

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