In the Name of the Father: Inheritance Systems and the Dynamics of State Capacity


This paper advances the importance of degree of gender-egalitarianism embedded in inheritance rules in determining state capacity at its early stages during medieval time. We present a theoretical model whereby state capacity building permits to raise taxes and overcome rivals. It accommodates dynasties in its simplest form and introduces inter-state marriages of landed heirs. On the one hand, dynastic continuity —of utmost importance to European medieval rulers— directly encourages state building. Gender-biased inheritance rules favouring men historically maximise the likelihood of dynastic continuity. We weigh this effect against the indirect impact of more land-merging marriages under gender-egalitarian rules. Contrary to the literature, our results suggest that gender-egalitarian norms —offering low probability of dynastic continuation— 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 preferring men over women as heirs.

12 Dec, 2016 2:40 PM — 3:20 PM
CREA Workshop on Culture and Comparative Development
Université du Luxembourg
Campus Limpertsberg, 162a, Avenue de la Faïencerie, Luxembourg, 1127
Annalisa Frigo
Annalisa Frigo
Economist at Bank of Italy

My research interests include family and demographic economics, migration and gender economics.

Èric Roca Fernández
Èric Roca Fernández
Assistant Professor

My research interests include comparative development, economic history and gender economics.