Violent Conflict and Political Development Over the Long Run: China versus Europe

Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 21

39 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2017 Last revised: 6 May 2020

See all articles by Mark Dincecco

Mark Dincecco

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Yuhua Wang

Department of Government, Harvard University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 5, 2017

Abstract

Is the traditional logic by which violent conflict fosters long-run political development universal? To help address this puzzle, this article compares Europe with China. While historical warfare was very common across both units, representative government only flourished in Europe. We suggest that the relationship between violent conflict and political development depends on the underlying political geography context. In Europe, political fragmentation was rampant. Thus, conflict tended to be external (i.e., interstate), and attack threats were multidirectional. Furthermore, exit ability was high in this context. Elites were therefore in a strong bargaining position to demand political representation in return for new tax revenue. China, by contrast, was politically centralized. Here, conflict tended to be internal, attack threats were unidirectional, and exit ability was low. The emperor was thus powerful enough to extract tax funds without surrendering political control. In this context, violent conflict promoted autocratic re-entrenchment. We conclude by briefly analyzing the relationships between political geography, historical conflict, and political development in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

Keywords: violent conflict, political geography, representative government, autocracy, state formation, historical analysis, exit-voice-loyalty model, Europe, China

Suggested Citation

Dincecco, Mark and Wang, Yuhua, Violent Conflict and Political Development Over the Long Run: China versus Europe (September 5, 2017). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 21, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3032679 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3032679

Mark Dincecco (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/umich.edu/dincecco

Yuhua Wang

Department of Government, Harvard University ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://scholar.harvard.edu/yuhuawang/home

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