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What Do States Do? Politics and Economic History

Philip Hoffman

The Journal of Economic History, 2015, vol. 75, issue 2, 303-332

Abstract: Although politics has a huge effect on economic outcomes, we still know too little about what public goods states furnish or what determines the laws, regulations, and policies that states adopt. Worse yet, we do not really understand how states arise in the first place and how they gain the ability to tax. There are numerous unanswered questions here that economic historians can profitably work on, and their research will be particularly valuable if they model the politics, gather data on taxation and spending by local and central governments, and pay serious attention to the historical details and to political behavior that may not involve optimization.

Date: 2015
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