Despite the vast evidence on the short run effects of adverse climate shocks on the economy, our understanding of their long run impact on institutions is limited. To tackle such a key issue, a vast body of research has focused on ancient societies because of the limited complexity of their economies and their unparalleled experience with environmental and institutional change. Notably, the “Collapse Archaeology” literature has reported countless correlations consistent with the mantra that severe droughts are bound to trigger institutional crises. This conclusion, however, has been recently challenged by a stream of papers that, building on more detailed data on Bronze Age Mesopotamia and a more credible theory-based empirical strategy, have yielded two novel results. First, severe droughts pushed the elites to grant strong political and property rights to the nonelites to convince them that a sufficient part of the returns on joint investments would be shared via public good provision and, thus, to cooperate and accumulate a culture of cooperation. Second, a more favorable climate allowed the elites to elicit cooperation under less inclusive political regimes as well as a weaker culture of cooperation and, possibly, incomplete property rights. These patterns emphasize the importance of considering the asymmetric effect of droughts and, more generally, combining natural and social sciences for the evaluation of climate-related policies.

Climate Change and State Evolution / Giacomo Benati; Carmine Guerriero. - In: PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. - ISSN 0027-8424. - STAMPA. - 118:14(2021), pp. e2020893118.1-e2020893118.5. [10.1073/pnas.2020893118]

Climate Change and State Evolution

Giacomo Benati
Primo
;
Carmine Guerriero
Secondo
2021

Abstract

Despite the vast evidence on the short run effects of adverse climate shocks on the economy, our understanding of their long run impact on institutions is limited. To tackle such a key issue, a vast body of research has focused on ancient societies because of the limited complexity of their economies and their unparalleled experience with environmental and institutional change. Notably, the “Collapse Archaeology” literature has reported countless correlations consistent with the mantra that severe droughts are bound to trigger institutional crises. This conclusion, however, has been recently challenged by a stream of papers that, building on more detailed data on Bronze Age Mesopotamia and a more credible theory-based empirical strategy, have yielded two novel results. First, severe droughts pushed the elites to grant strong political and property rights to the nonelites to convince them that a sufficient part of the returns on joint investments would be shared via public good provision and, thus, to cooperate and accumulate a culture of cooperation. Second, a more favorable climate allowed the elites to elicit cooperation under less inclusive political regimes as well as a weaker culture of cooperation and, possibly, incomplete property rights. These patterns emphasize the importance of considering the asymmetric effect of droughts and, more generally, combining natural and social sciences for the evaluation of climate-related policies.
2021
Climate Change and State Evolution / Giacomo Benati; Carmine Guerriero. - In: PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. - ISSN 0027-8424. - STAMPA. - 118:14(2021), pp. e2020893118.1-e2020893118.5. [10.1073/pnas.2020893118]
Giacomo Benati; Carmine Guerriero
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/808020
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