The origin of the state: land productivity or appropriability?

Journal of Political Economy Vol/Iss. 130(4) The University of Chicago Press Published In Pages: 1091-1144
By Mayshar, Joram, Moav, Omer, Pascali, Luigi


The authors evaluated an alternative theory to the traditional productivity theory. They posit that food surplus did not precede the emergence of hierarchy, rather, the productivity advantage of cereal cultivation over tubers and roots as the catalyst for state societies. Their theory found support with a sample of societies from the present-day, Classical Antiquity, Neolithic period and pre/post Columbian Exchange. The results suggest social complexity emerged with cereal cultivation, rather than agriculture alone.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Ethnographic Atlas (EA)CombinationSociety-level
Borcan, Olsson, and Putterman (2018)CombinationCountry-level
Archaeological Atlas of the WorldCombinationNeolithic period
Global Crop Diversity Trust & Mayshar, (2022)Researcher's ownColumbian Exchange

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