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In the name of the father: inheritance systems and the dynamics of state capacity

Abstract : This paper examines how the degree of gender-egalitarianism embedded in inheritance rules impacts state capacity at its early stages during medieval times. We present a theoretical model in which building state capacity enables nobles to raise taxes and overcome rivals. The model addresses the use of inheritance to consolidate landholding dynasties, also accommodating interstate marriages between landed heirs. On the one hand, dynastic continuity—of utmost importance to medieval lords—directly encourages state-building. Male-biased inheritance rules historically maximize the likelihood of dynastic continuity. We weigh this effect against the indirect impact of the more frequent land-merging marriages under gender-egalitarian rules. Contrary to the literature, our results suggest that gender-egalitarian norms—offering a low probability of dynastic continuity—promote state capacity in the short run more than gender-biased norms. In the long run, results are reversed, providing a rationale for the pervasive European tradition of preference for men as heirs.
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Èric Roca Fernández. In the name of the father: inheritance systems and the dynamics of state capacity. Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2021, 25 (4), pp.896-923. ⟨10.1017/S1365100519000476⟩. ⟨hal-02469784⟩



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