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What are the causes of poor governance in Afghanistan? When do states help create wealth and when do they destroy it? Dr. Ilia Murtazashvili joins us from the University of Pittsburgh for a seminar on the causes of government predation.

About the Talk:

The literature on the state can be divided into a contract perspective, which emphasizes that the state can more efficiently provide public goods, such as market institutions and collective defense, than smaller-scale political organizations, and the predatory theory, which contends that the state tends to destroy wealth rather than provide public goods, especially when assets are immobile and capturable. We extend the scope of the predatory theory of the state by explicitly considering how political institutions, self-governance, and foreign intervention influence the incentives of the state to create or to destroy wealth. Historical and fieldwork evidence from Afghanistan illustrates how political instability, centralization of state authority, and weak political constraints encouraged predation. Foreign intervention, including both foreign aid and foreign military presence, exacerbated the shortcomings of political institutions. Customary self-governance is a redoubt against the predatory state, but often lacks the capacity to defend communities against government predation.

 About the Speaker:

Ilia Murtazashvili specializes in political economy, institutional design, land governance, public policy, and public administration. Substantively, he is interested in emergence and change in property rights institutions, American political development, challenges of public administration in weakly institutionalized contexts, and the relationship between property rights and security in fragile states. He has written on emergence and change in property rights on the American frontier, self-governance of land relations in a diversity of contexts both in the US and the developing world, the relationship between land and state-building in Afghanistan, and on the governance of hydraulic fracturing. His current research focuses on the relationship between governance and legal titling in the developing world, the implications of economic studies of anarchy for public policy, the link between institutions and the shale boom in the US, and on lessons of the American frontier for current challenges confronting developing countries seeking to improve prospects for economic development and political stability.