The Political Economy of Status Competition: Sumptuary Laws in Preindustrial Europe

64 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2020

See all articles by Desiree Desierto

Desiree Desierto

W. Allen Wallis Institute, University of Rochester

Mark Koyama

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 13, 2020

Abstract

Sumptuary laws that regulated clothing based on social status were an important part of the political economy of premodern states. We introduce a model that rationalizes the use of sumptuary laws by elites to regulate status competition from below. Our model predicts a non-monotonic effect of income - sumptuary legislation initially increases with income, but then falls as income increases further. The initial rise is more likely for states with less extractive institutions, whose ruling elites face greater status threat from the rising commercial class. We test these predictions using a new dataset of country and city-level sumptuary laws.

Keywords: Status Competition, Political Economy, Economic History

JEL Classification: N3, K4, Z0

Suggested Citation

Desierto, Desiree and Koyama, Mark, The Political Economy of Status Competition: Sumptuary Laws in Preindustrial Europe (February 13, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3537889 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3537889

Desiree Desierto

W. Allen Wallis Institute, University of Rochester ( email )

107 Harkness Hall
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY NY 14627
United States

Mark Koyama (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://mason.gmu.edu/~mkoyama2/About.html

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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