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Wealth-destroying states

Jennifer Murtazashvili () and Ilia Murtazashvili ()
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Jennifer Murtazashvili: University of Pittsburgh
Ilia Murtazashvili: University of Pittsburgh

Public Choice, 2020, vol. 182, issue 3, No 7, 353-371

Abstract: Abstract According to the contract theory of the state, individuals give up their freedom to a specialist in violence who then provides public goods, such as private property rights and collective defense. The predatory perspective views the state as expropriating what it can unless individuals develop institutions of collective action to limit the scope of the state. We extend these economic theories of the state by showing how the behavior of rulers depends on political stability, political constraints, self-governance, and foreign intervention. We use evidence from Afghanistan to illustrate how political instability and the absence of meaningful political constraints enables the predatory state. Foreign aid and foreign military intervention amplify the wealth-destroying features of political institutions. Customary self-governance provides public goods locally but is only a partial defense against predatory rulers and can be overwhelmed by predatory self-governing organizations, especially warlords and the Taliban.

Keywords: Contract theory of the state; Predatory theory of the state; Political institutions; Polycentricity; Spontaneous order; Self-governance; Foreign aid; Afghanistan (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B52 B53 H11 Q15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s11127-019-00675-7

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