Productive Specialization, Peaceful Cooperation, and the Problem of the Predatory State: Lessons From Comparative Historical Political Economy
40 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2019 Last revised: 13 Mar 2019
Date Written: January 31, 2019
This paper reconceptualizes and unbundles the relationship between public predation, state capacity, and economic development from a constitutional perspective. By reframing our understanding of state capacity theory from a constitutional perspective, we argue that to the extent there is a causal relationship between state capacity and economic development, the relationship is proximate rather than fundamental. State capacity emerges from an institutional context in which the state is constrained from publicly predating its citizenry in violation of predefined rules limiting its discretion. When political constraints are not established to limit political discretion, then state capacity will degenerate from a means of delivering economic development to a means of predation. In addition, we investigate two case studies of economic and political transition: the privatization of Russia subsequent to the collapse of the Soviet Union; and the political unification of Sicily with the Italian peninsula subsequent to the Napoleonic Wars. In each case, political and economic transition intended to secure well-defined and well-enforced property rights enabled the predatory capacity of the state. In each case, the attempt to redistribute property rights through political discretion only enabled predation by the political elite.
Keywords: Constitutional Political Economy; Predation; State Capacity; Economic Development
JEL Classification: B53; H11; P26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation