DP3723 | The Law of Primogeniture and the Transition from Landed Aristocracy to Industrial Democracy

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This Paper looks at the historical evolution of the relationship between an economy?s structure and the corresponding political system, with a focus on the European experience, starting from feudal times. We show why, in an early agricultural phase, aristocratic political systems prevail, while democracies tend to emerge with industrialization. At the same time the law of inheritance evolves from primogeniture to equal partition, as the primary source of wealth shifts from land to capital. The model also replicates the historical stylized facts of output growth and its sectoral composition, income and wealth distribution, and class structure.