You Reap What You Know: Origins and Dynamics of State Capacity

Thursday 29 November 2018, 1.00PM to - 2.00pm

Speaker(s): Thilo Huning

 Abstract:  To better understand the role of taxation for the emergence of states, this article outlines how geographically induced information asymmetries caused inefficient taxation, and hence outmigration, uprisings, and rent-seeking, but also urbanization, and allowed some states to develop state capacity while others failed. We propose a geographic index of information costs, observability of agricultural output, to test if a more complicated geography prohibited states to tax effectively. Our case study is the Holy Roman Empire, which had a relatively homogeneous institutional framework, state of technology, and ethnic composition across hundreds of observed states, for over 500 years. We find a robust link between observability and states' tax capacity, their size, and their survival.

Location: A/EC202 Economics Staff Room

Admission: Staff and PhD Students