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You reap what you know: Appropriability and the origin of European states

Thilo Rene Huning and Fabian Wahl

European Journal of Political Economy, 2023, vol. 79, issue C

Abstract: Geography provides some states with a higher level of soil quality than others, and in addition has allowed some historical states to appropriate agricultural output at lower costs. To test this empirically, we propose a new measure of appropriability: caloric observability. The idea behind this measure is that geography induces variation between states because their signals about agricultural output differ in precision. Caloric observability is robustly and significantly correlated with proxies of government success on three levels: Data on all European states 1300–1700, our new data set on the Holy Roman Empire 1150–1789, and a municipality-level data set of 1545 Duchy of Württemberg.

Keywords: Fiscal capacity; Soil heterogeneity; Holy Roman Empire; Duchy of Württemberg (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D02 D82 H11 H21 N93 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2023.102432

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Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:79:y:2023:i:c:s0176268023000769