What does it take for a roving bandit settle down? Theory and an illustrative history of the Visigoths

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Abstract

A roving bandit provides exclusive (rivalrous) collective goods to members of its in-group. A stationary bandit further provides inclusive (non-rivalrous; public) collective goods to the out-group. The inclusive goods are an input to the production of the exclusive goods enjoyed by the in-group. As such, the transition from roving to stationary bandit is likely to involve the redefinition of the in-group, its collective interest, and the type of goods that it provides. To illustrate these points, I employ a case study of the roving Visigothic confederacy as it evolved during the fourth and fifth centuries towards the stationary Visigothic Kingdom. The illustration provides insights into why competition amongst roving bandits does not always (or often) lead to the emergence of a non-predatory state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-102
Number of pages28
JournalPublic Choice
Volume168
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Keywords

  • Ancient economic history
  • Collective action problems
  • Governance institutions
  • Nation building
  • Roman empire
  • Roving versus stationary bandits
  • State emergence
  • Visigoths

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