The Long-Run Effects of Weak States: Evidence from the Viking Settlement of Eastern England

Anders Wieland, Aarhus University

This paper examines the long-run effects of weak states on economic and political development, taking medieval England as a laboratory. I exploit novel variation in the weak kingdom that emerged with the Viking settlement of eastern England in 878 and combine it with historically unique data on income and political rights of over 16,000 manors from eleventh-century England. Using OLS and a spatial regressions discontinuity design, I offer evidence that the weak Viking kingdom undermined development, but also created a political environment that promoted liberty among the peasantry. I provide additional evidence that increased political violence and a fundamental change in the balance of power between peasants and local lords help explain this relationship.

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 Presented in Session 116. Regions of State Formation