Roots of Autocracy
Exploiting a novel geo-referenced data set of population diversity across ethnic groups, this research advances the hypothesis and empirically establishes that variation in population diversity across human societies, as determined in the course of the exodus of human from Africa tens of thousands of years ago, contributed to the differential formation of pre-colonial autocratic institutions within ethnic groups and the emergence of autocratic institutions across countries. Diversity has amplified the importance of institutions in mitigating the adverse effects of non-cohesiveness on productivity, while contributing to the scope for domination, leading to the formation of institutions of the autocratic type.
The authors are grateful for valuable comments from Alberto Alesina, James Fenske, Martin Fiszbein, Elhanan Helpman, Stelios Michalopoulos, Nathan Nunn, Nico Voigtlaender, participants in the conferences CEPR Growth Conference 2016, London, Deep Determinants of International Comparative Development, Brown University, Towards Sustained Economic Growth, Barcelona, MEHR, Copenhagen, NBER Political Economy 2016, Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture 2016, ASSA 2017, as well as seminar participants at Copenhagen, Harvard, Kiel, Louvain, Oxford, Tel Aviv, and Warwick. The research of Galor is supported by NSF grant SES-1338426. The research of Klemp has been funded partially by the Carlsberg Foundation and the Danish Research Council reference no. 1329-00093 and reference no. 1327-00245. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.