David Levine
Florence & Washington U. St Louis



(Monday, 19th May 2014)

Title : Theory of the State

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Political economy has focused primarily on the interaction between government and economy in the context of a single state, and economics has generally examined the relationship between states in the context of trade. The usual lens through which this is viewed is the traditional one of efficiency. Institutions, however, are generally spread through conflict and other forms of competition between states. Hence we are most likely to see institutions that will survive in an evolutionary setting - and maximization of fitness is not the same thing as efficiency.

This workshop will examine institutions through the lens of conflict and evolution. We will consider models in which institutions give rise to differing levels of state power which enable them to prevail in competition with other states. We will examine some specific models of state power and how maximization of fitness - state power - differs from efficiency. We will examine also implications of the theory for the evolution of states: in particular the rise and decline of states, and the emergence of hegemonic states. The theory will be presented in the context of both a specific case study (China) and also broader historical evidence about the emergence of hegemonies.

Bibliographical references :

Must read reference : Levine, D. K. and S. Modica (2013): "Conflict, Evolution, Hegemony, and the Power of the State"

Levine, D. K. and S. Modica (2014): "Interim and Long-Run Dynamics in the Evolution of Conventions"

Levine, D. K. and S. Modica [2013]: "Anti-Malthus: Conflict and the Evolution of Societies," Research in Economics, 67: 289-306

Young, P. [1993]: "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, 61: 57-83

Acemoglu D. and J. Robinson [2012]: Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

Diamond, J. [1999]: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies