The conventional theory about the origin of the state is that the adoption of farming led to an increase in productivity, which led to food surplus. Food surplus is held to be a prerequisite for the emergence of hierarchical societies and eventually states. Luigi and his co-authors challenge this theory and propose that hierarchy arose due to the shift to dependence on appropriable cereal grains. Their empirical investigation, utilizing multiple data sets spanning several millennia, demonstrates a causal effect of the cultivation of cereals on hierarchy, without finding a similar effect for land productivity. In this Webinar, Luigi will present several case studies that further support their claims.
Quantitative History Webinar Series量化歷史講座系列 宋至清的防疫與治疫:政府與民間組織的角色
Aangela Leung, Chair Professor, The University of Hong Kong
Does a person's historical lineage influence his or her current economic status? Motivated by a large literature in the social sciences stressing the effect of an early transition to agriculture on current economic performance at the country level, Stylianos Michalopoulos and his team examine the relative contemporary status of individuals as a function of how much their ancestors relied on agriculture during the preindustrial era. They focus on Africa, where—by combining anthropological records of groups with individual-level survey data—they can explore the effect of the historical lifeways of one's forefathers. Within enumeration areas (typically a single village or group of villages in the countryside and a city block in urban areas) as well as occupational groups, they find that individuals from ethnicities that derived a larger share of subsistence from agriculture in the precolonial era are today more educated and wealthy. A tentative exploration of channels suggests that differences in attitudes and beliefs as well as differential treatment by others, including differential political power, may contribute to these divergent outcomes.
Quantitative History Webinar Series Ideological Entrepreneurs, Multiplex Network Diffusion, and the Spread of Radical Innovations: Martin Luther’s Role in the Early Reformation
Jared Rubin, Professor of Economics, Chapman University
Jared Rubin, together with his team, analyzes Martin Luther’s role in spreading the early Reformation, one of the most important episodes of radical institutional change in the last millennium. They argue that social relations played a key role in its diffusion because the spread of heterodox ideologies and their eventual institutionalization relied not only on private “infection” through exposure to innovation, but also active conversion to and the promotion of that new faith through personal ties. They conceive of that process as leader-to-follower directional influence originating with Luther and flowing to local elites through personal ties. Based on novel data on Luther’s correspondence, Luther’s visits, and student enrollments in Luther’s city of Wittenberg, his research team reconstructs Luther’s influence network to test whether local connections to him increased the odds of adopting Protestantism. Using regression analyses and simulations based on empirical network data, his team finds that the combination of personal/relational diffusion via Luther’s multiplex ties and spatial/structural diffusion via trade routes fostered adoption of the Reformation by cities, making possible Protestantism’s early breakthrough from a regional movement to a general rebellion against the Roman Catholic Church.