Political Legitimacy and Technology Adoption
A fundamental question of economic and technological history is why some civilizations adopted new and important technologies and others did not. In this paper, we construct a simple political economy model which suggests that rulers may not accept a productivity-enhancing technology when it negatively affects an agent’s ability to provide the ruler legitimacy. However, when other sources of legitimacy emerge, the ruler will accept the technology as long as the new legitimizing source is not negatively affected. This insight helps explain the initial blocking but eventual accepting of the printing press in the Ottoman Empire and industrialization in Tsarist Russia. JEL Classification: D7, H2, H3, N4, N7, O3, O5, P48, P5, Z12 Key words: Technology, Political Economy, Legitimacy, Tsarist Russia, Ottoman Empire
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