Macrohistory Seminar – Omer Moav (University of Warwick)

Event details

  • | Thursday, July 19
  • 4:15 PM
  • Kaiserplatz 7-9, 4th floor, Room 4.006

The Emergence of Hierarchies and States: Productivity vs. Appropriability, joint with Joram Mayshar, Zvika Neeman, and Luigi Pascali

According to conventional theory, hierarchies and states were formed following the Neolithic Revolution because the increase in land productivity generated a food surplus. Regional differences in state hierarchies are therefore explained by differences in land productivity. We challenge this productivity-and-surplus theory, proposing that differences in appropriability, and not in productivity, account for differences in hierarchy between regions. To test our proposition, we follow the claim that cereals are easier to appropriate than most other crops. Utilizing several data sets, spanning several millennia, we find that the causal effect of the cultivation of cereals on hierarchy is significant, and leaves nothing that can be explained by land productivity per se.