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

Posted: 17 Jun 2018

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: May 2018

Abstract

Is the traditional logic by which violent conflict fosters long-run political development universal? To help address this question, this article compares Europe with China. While historical warfare was very common across both units, representative government flourished only 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.

Suggested Citation

Dincecco, Mark and Wang, Yuhua, Violent Conflict and Political Development Over the Long Run: China Versus Europe (May 2018). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 21, pp. 341-358, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3197098 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-polisci-050317-064428

Mark Dincecco

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

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

Yuhua Wang (Contact Author)

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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