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Roots of Autocracy

Oded Galor () and Marc Klemp ()

No 2015-7, Working Papers from Brown University, Department of Economics

Abstract: This research explores the origins of the variation in the prevalence and nature of political institutions across globe. It advances the hypothesis and establishes empirically that variation in the inherent diversity across human societies, as determined in the course of the exodus of Homo sapiens from Africa tens of thousands of years ago, shaped the nature of political institutions across regions and societies. The study establishes that, while human diversity has amplified the beneficial e?ects of institutions, mitigating the adverse e?ects of non-cohesiveness, its simultaneous contribution to heterogeneity in cognitive and physical traits has fostered the scope for domination, leading to the formation and persistence of autocratic institutions. A larger degree of human diversity within societies diminished cohesiveness and therefore stimulated the emergence of institutions that have mitigated the adverse e?ects of non-cohesiveness on productivity. However, the dual impact of human diversity on the emergence of inequality and class stratification have diverted the nature of the emerging institutions towards extractive, autocratic ones. Developing a novel geo-referenced dataset of genetic diversity and ethnographic characteristics among ethnic groups across the globe, the analysis establishes that genetic diversity contributed to the emergence of autocratic pre-colonial institutions. Moreover, the findings suggest that the contribution of diversity to these pre-colonial autocratic institutions has plausibly operated through its dual e?ect on the formation of institutions and class stratification. Furthermore, reflecting the persistence of institutional, cultural, and genetic characteristics, the spatial distribution of genetic diversity across the globe has contributed to the contemporary variation in the degree of autocracy across countries.

Keywords: Autocracy; Economic Growth; Genetic Diversity; Institutions; Out-of-Africa Hypothesis of Comparative Development (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-dev, nep-evo, nep-gro and nep-his
Date: 2015
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Related works:
Working Paper: Roots of Autocracy (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Roots of Autocracy (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Roots of Autocracy (2017) Downloads
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