Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Bray Theory Workshop
Conflict and the Evolution of Societies
David K. Levine, The John H. Biggs Distinguished Prof. of Economics, Department of Economics, Washington University in St. Louis
A pervasive fact about human societies is that they expand and contract through conflict. When this is taken account of the long-run favors not institutions that maximize welfare or per capita output, but rather institutions that maximize martial power. We develop the evolutionary underpinnings of this model. A key implication of the theory is the predominance of the hegemonic state - an important historical fact. In an evolutionary setting as in reality hegemonies rise and fall. This is not due, as in many historical analyses, to "internal rot" but rather to occasional bad luck. In an illustrative example we show how technological improvement is likely to increase per capita output as well as increase population, and that there is a critical role for inefficient institutions such as bureaucracy.
The paper can be found at: http://www.dklevine.com/papers/antimalthus.pdf