Discussion paper

DP18326 Anatomy of a premodern state

We provide a blueprint for the construction of state capacity measures for premodern states, which has several advantages over the state of the art. We argue that the composition of revenues, expenditure patterns, and local-level budgets must be considered to assess changing state capacity. As an application, we tackle the case of Portugal (1367–1844). We show that Portugal kept throughout this long period a comparatively high fiscal capacity. Hence, a having a weak state did not factor Portugal's dismal economic performance from the second half of the eighteenth century.


Costa, L, A Henriques and N Palma (2023), ‘DP18326 Anatomy of a premodern state‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18326. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18326