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Historical DynamicsWhy States Rise and Fall$
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Peter Turchin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691180779

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691180779.001.0001

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The Demographic-Structural Theory

The Demographic-Structural Theory

Chapter:
(p.118) Chapter Seven The Demographic-Structural Theory
Source:
Historical Dynamics
Author(s):

Peter Turchin

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691180779.003.0007

This chapter examines Jack Goldstone's demographic-structural theory of state breakdown. It first considers the role of excessive population dynamics in state collapse before introducing a simple mathematical model of the interaction between population dynamics and the fiscal health of the state. This demographic-fiscal model predicts recurrent episodes of state building and population growth followed by state breakdown and population decline. Class structure is then added to the basic model to account for the dynamics of the state, elites, and commoners. The chapter also discusses empirical applications of the demographic-structural theory by focusing on the English Revolution of the seventeenth century and reviews David Hackett Fischer's theory and data dealing with four “great waves” of socioeconomic dynamics in western Europe from the twelfth to the twentieth century. Finally, it analyzes Stuart Borsch's study of Egypt after the Black Death and after the Antonine plagues.

Keywords:   demographic-structural theory, state breakdown, population dynamics, demographic-fiscal model, class structure, elites, commoners, English Revolution, socioeconomic dynamics, Black Death

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