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Historical state stability and economic development in Europe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 July 2019

S.P. Harish
College of William & Mary, Tyler Hall, 300 James Blair Dr, Williamsburg, VA23185, USA
Christopher Paik*
New York University Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, PO Box 129188, Abu Dhabi, UAE
*Corresponding author. E-mail:


In this paper, we show that state stability exhibits a persistent and robust non-monotonic relationship with economic development. Based on observations in Europe spanning from 1 to 2000 AD, regions that have historically experienced either short- or long-duration state rule on average lag behind in their local wealth today, while those that have experienced medium-duration state rule fare better. These findings support the argument that both an absence as well as an excess of state stability are bad for economic development. State instability hinders investment for growth, while too much stability is likely indicative of elite capture and subsequent stagnation of innovation.

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Copyright © The European Political Science Association 2019

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