Quantitative History Webinar Series – The Origin of the State: Land Productivity or Appropriability?
The conventional theory about the origin of the state is that the adoption of farming led to an increase in productivity, which led to food surplus. Food surplus is held to be a prerequisite for the emergence of hierarchical societies and eventually states. Luigi and his co-authors challenge this theory and propose that hierarchy arose due to the shift to dependence on appropriable cereal grains. Their empirical investigation, utilizing multiple data sets spanning several millennia, demonstrates a causal effect of the cultivation of cereals on hierarchy, without finding a similar effect for land productivity. In this Webinar, Luigi will present several case studies that further support their claims.