Property Rights and the Evolution of the State
Posted: 29 Aug 2012
Date Written: April 1, 2000
Using property-rights tools, this paper develops a theory of the transition from despotic to rule-of-law regimes, relying on the notion that rulers and subjects are interested in maximizing wealth. Keeping subjects in check enhances despots' internal security, but at the cost of lower output, and of less wealth for the despots. Enhanced wealth is especially valuable for protection against outside threat. Subjects will increase output only if provided with rights to, for example, ownership, movement, and voting. Despots can guarantee them these rights by relinquishing some of their own power.
Keywords: Rule-of-law, dictator, institutions, evolution, voting, cooperation
JEL Classification: P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation