Path Dependence in European Development: Medieval Politics, Conflict, and State Building.

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    • Abstract:
      During the Middle Ages, most European polities operated under a norm that gave only the close male relatives of a monarch a privileged place in the order of succession. When no such heirs were available, succession disputes were more likely, with distant relatives and female(-line) heirs laying competing claims to the throne. These disputes often produced conflicts that destroyed existing institutions and harmed subsequent economic development. A shortage of male heirs to a European monarchy in the Middle Ages could thus have harmful effects on the development trajectories of regions ruled by that monarchy. We provide evidence for this by showing that regions that were more likely to have a shortage of male heirs are today poorer than other regions. Our finding highlights the importance of the medieval period in European development and shows how small shocks can work in combination with institutions and norms in shaping long-run development paths. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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