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State Capacity, Conflict and Development

  • Timothy J. Besley
  • Torsten Persson

We report on an on-going project, which asks a number of questions relevant to the study of state capacity. What are the main economic and political determinants of the state's capacity to raise revenue and support private markets? How do risks of violent conflict affect the incentives to invest in state building? Does it matter whether conflicts are external or internal to the state? When are large states associated with higher income levels and growth rates than small states? What relations should we expect between resource rents, civil wars and economic development? The paper is organized into three main sections: 1. The origins of state capacity, 2. Sate capacity and the genius of taxation, and 3. State capacity and the strategy of conflict. Each of these begins with a specific motivation. A simple model is formulated to analyze the determinants of state capacity in the first section, and modified to address the new issues that arise in subsequent sections. The theoretical results are summarized in a number of propositions. We discuss the implications of the theory, comment on its relation to existing literature, and briefly mention some empiric applications.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15088.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Publication status: published as Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2010. "State Capacity, Conflict, and Development," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(1), pages 1-34, 01.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15088
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2007. "Emergence and Persistence of Inefficient States," Working Papers 0707, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2007.
  2. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1990. "Public Finance in Models of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3362, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2009. "The origins of state capacity: property rights, taxation and politics," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33768, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
  5. Acemoglu, Daron, 2005. "Politics and economics in weak and strong states," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1199-1226, October.
  6. Timothy J. Besley & Torsten Persson, 2008. "The Incidence of Civil War: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 14585, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Barro, R.J., 1988. "Government Spending In A Simple Model Of Endogenous Growth," RCER Working Papers 130, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  8. Milgrom, P. & Shannon, C., 1991. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Papers 11, Stanford - Institute for Thoretical Economics.
  9. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2009. "Repression or civil war?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33748, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  10. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  11. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 2000. "Greed and grievance in civil war," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2355, The World Bank.
  12. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance and growth : Schumpeter might be right," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1083, The World Bank.
  14. Marco Pagano & Paolo Volpin, 1999. "The Political Economy of Corporate Governance," CSEF Working Papers 29, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 01 Jul 2005.
  15. Persson, T. & Roland, G. & Tabellini, G., 1997. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," Papers 633, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  16. Rajan, Raghuram G. & Zingales, Luigi, 2003. "The great reversals: the politics of financial development in the twentieth century," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 5-50, July.
  17. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Why Not a Political Coase Theorem? Social Conflict, Commitment and Politics," NBER Working Papers 9377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Nicholas Sambanis, 2002. "A Review of Recent Advances and Future Directions in the Quantitative Literature on Civil War," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(3), pages 215-243.
  19. Daron Acemoglu, 2006. "Modeling Inefficient Institutions," NBER Working Papers 11940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2010. "Civil War," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(1), pages 3-57, March.
  21. repec:fth:wobaco:1083 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Svensson, Jakob, 1998. "Investment, property rights and political instability: Theory and evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(7), pages 1317-1341, July.
  23. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2008. "Wars and State Capacity," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 522-530, 04-05.
  24. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production: I--Production Efficiency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(1), pages 8-27, March.
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