Here are some highlights from Johnson and Koyama's "States and Economic Growth: Capacity and Constraints" (Explorations in Economic History, 2017). Remember: Since this piece is a literature review, you should continue to take my critical remarks as a criticism of the literature, not as a criticism of my esteemed colleagues.1. How do researchers actually measure state capacity? One of the most common measures is simply per-capita taxes.Recent work by Besley and Persson (2011) has drawn attention to an important correlation between per capita GDP and measures of state capacity, usually defined as per capita tax revenues. This positive correlation is robust and holds over a wide range of definitions of
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