DP2173 | The Market for Protection and the Origin of the State

Publication Date

28/06/1999

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Abstract

We examine a stark setting in which security or protection can be provided by self-governing groups of by for-profit entrepreneurs: kings, lords, or mafia dons. Though self-governance is best for the population, it faces problems of long-term viability. Typically, in providing security the stable market structure involves competing lords, a condition that leads to a tragedy of coercion: all the savings from the provision of collective protection are dissipated and welfare can be as low or lower than in the absence of a state.