Fiscal and Financial Preconditions for the Formation of Developmental States in the West and the East from the Conquest of Ceuta (1415) to the Opium War (1839)
- Journal of World History
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Volume 23, Number 3, September 2012
- pp. 513-553
- Additional Information
For centuries before the Great Divergence the priorities of Eurasian states had not been with the specification and protection of property rights, the reduction of transaction costs, the extension of markets, the facilitation of competition or any of the other institutional prerequisites specified for Smithian growth in premodern economies. Their overwhelming concern seems to have been with their own formation in contexts of intensifying geopolitical and imperial violence, attacks from nomads, as well as internal rivalries for control over resources with warlords, local gentries, aristocratic magnates, urban oligarchies, ecclesiastical prelates, and other contenders of power within their own borders. Some comprehension of when, how, and why some states constructed the kind of autonomous, centralized, and effective governments with administrative capacities required to support and sustain institution required for long-term economic growth seems to be a precondition for the initiation of a discourse for a global history of state formation. The aims of this paper are to survey the modern secondary literature covering both historical and theoretical approaches concerned with connections between the formation and constitutions of states and the construction of institutions for the assessment and collection of taxes. For global history its conclusion is that in retrospect the extensive territorial empires in both the Orient (and the Occident?) look suboptimal as political units for the promotion of economic growth.