A General Theory of Power Concentration: Demographic Influences on Political Organization

98 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2016 Last revised: 10 Jun 2016

See all articles by John Gerring

John Gerring

University of Texas at Austin

Jillian Jaeger

Boston University, Students

Matthew Maguire

San José State University

Date Written: April 1, 2016

Abstract

Why is the exercise of political power highly concentrated in some polities and widely dispersed in others? We argue that one persistent causal factor is demographic. Populous polities are characterized by more concentrated structures of authority. To explain this relationship we invoke two mechanisms: efficiency and trust. The theory is demonstrated with a wide variety of empirical measures and in two settings: (1) cross-country analyses including most sovereign states and extending back to the 19th century and (2) within-country analyses focused on states, counties, and localities in the United States.

Suggested Citation

Gerring, John and Jaeger, Jillian and Maguire, Matthew, A General Theory of Power Concentration: Demographic Influences on Political Organization (April 1, 2016). V-Dem Working Paper 2016:29, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2771021 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2771021

John Gerring (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Jillian Jaeger

Boston University, Students ( email )

Boston, MA
United States

Matthew Maguire

San José State University ( email )

San José, CA
United States

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