Research Seminar on Diversity and Development
HSE International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development (ICSID) and NES Center for the Study of Diversity and Social Interactions held another session of their joint Research Seminar on Diversity and Development on October 24, 2017. The event was held jointly with the seminar “Political Economy” and Economic Development and Growth Research Group.
Abstract: Conventional theory holds that hierarchies and states emerged following the Neolithic transition to agriculture as a result of increased land productivity, and that differences in land productivity explain differences in hierarchies between regions. We challenge this theory and propose that social hierarchy emerged where the elite were able to appropriate crops from farmers. In particular, we argue that cereals are easier to appropriate than most other foodstuffs. Therefore, regional variations in the suitability of land for the cultivation of different crop types can account for differences in the formation of hierarchies and states. Our empirical investigation supports such a causal effect of the cultivation of cereals on hierarchy, without finding a similar effect for land productivity.