Political Economy and Population Growth In Early Modern Japan
During the feudal Edo period (1603-1868) in Japan, the shogunate government relied
for regional control on hereditary feudal barons as well as its own bakufu bureaucracy. Compared with hereditary lords, bakufu officials had shorter and uncertain tenure. Examining easily available historical data, the paper finds that regions ruled by bakufu bureaucrats are associated with (a) slower population growth, (b) slower growth in productive capacity, and (c) higher incidences of civil unrest. The evidence supports Mancur Olson’s thesis that those with coercive power will be lead by their ”encompassing interest” to provide growth-friendly environment when they are assured of a stable, long-term tenure.
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