Seminar with Jacob Gerner Hariri (University of Copenhagen)
The title of presentation: "The Coercive Imbalance: Modern Arms Technology in Premodern Societies".
Arms technology is an important driver of societal development over the long run, and this paper documents a stylized fact about arms technology that is unknown to the literature: Since around 1800, countries outside of the technological frontier have generally had access to advanced arms technology at a relatively early stage of societal modernization and administrative development. We dub this 'the coercive imbalance'. We show that the coercive imbalance arose because arms technology diffuses faster than productive technology, and because countries' adoption of arms technology is only weakly related to processes of economic development and industrialization. We also briefly explore the political consequences of the imbalance: in a panel of more than 150 countries going back to 1820, we find the adoption of sophisticated arms technology at an early stage of economic development to be strongly and robustly associated with a democratic deficit, military government, and corruption.