What seems clear is that the collapse coincided with

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Unformatted text preview: tive and Historical Analysis: L September 28, 2009 23 / 25 Explaining the Collapse Webster gives a nice overview of the di¤erent theories. What seems clear is that the collapse coincided with a loss of power/legitimacy of the Divine Kings. It is hard to know if this was the result of warfare or some ideological crisis. The institution collapsed and with it the institutional structure which had created the societies and the public goods they created. Political decentralization took place, population fell (the area was very depopulated when Cortés travelled through it in the early 16th century) and trade declined. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis: L September 28, 2009 24 / 25 A Malthusian Crisis? Webster discusses this idea but it is hard to describe these dynamics simply in terms of rising population and declining living standards. First of all there is little evidence of declining living standards. Though skeletal evidence certainly suggests that Mayan were unhealthy and had low life expectancy, it does not suggest any general tendency for a deterioration despite of the fact that population grew enormously. The striking thing is the institutional collapse which occurs right at the transition between expansion and decline. The institutional organization of the Mayan states was enough to create growth, but it was not sustainable, possibly because it created rents for an elite, which generated con‡icts over rents. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis: L September 28, 2009 25 / 25...
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This document was uploaded on 02/28/2014 for the course ECON 2328 at Harvard.

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