Internal Conflict and State Development: Evidence from Imperial China
46 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2018 Last revised: 26 Aug 2021
Date Written: August 25, 2021
We analyze the conditions under which internal conflict can promote or impede state development. Our study exploits original fine-grained data spanning more than half a millennium across imperial China. We find that, traditionally, the central state improved its monopoly over violence in response to mass rebellion. The mid-nineteenth century marked the start of a new geopolitical era in China, compelling the central state to levy a higher tribute on local elites in order to undertake new investments in military defense. In turn, we find evidence for a shift in security leadership toward local elites in response to mass rebellion, reducing the central state's monopoly over violence. Our analysis implies that the relationship between internal conflict and state development depends on the specific geopolitical context.
Keywords: Monopoly over Violence, State Capacity, Elite Action, Kin Networks
JEL Classification: N45, P48, H10
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