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The Dynastic Cycle and the Stationary State


  • Dan Usher


Chinese historians speak of dynastic cycles where periods of economic progress and decline coincide with the rise and fall of families of rulers, while economists speak of societies without technical change or involuntary unemployment as evolving into stationary states. This paper alters the usual assumptions of economic analysis to generate dynastic cycles. People are divided into three classes: farmers, thieves and rulers. Rulers act in their own interest in taxing farmers and hunting thieves. The risk of loss of life in combat has a major influence on population growth. The cycle is modelled as alternations between anarchy and despotism. Despotism collapses into anarchy when population becomes too large and income per head too small to support a ruling class.

Suggested Citation

  • Dan Usher, 1986. "The Dynastic Cycle and the Stationary State," Working Papers 671, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:671

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