The economic origins of government (Joint with Bob Allen and Leander Heldring)
We test between cooperative and extractive theories of the origins of government. We use river shifts in southern Iraq as a natural experiment, in a new archeological panel dataset. A shift away creates a local demand for a government to coordinate because private river irrigation needs to be replaced with public canals. It disincentivizes local extraction as land is no longer productive without irrigation. Consistent with a cooperative theory of government, a river shift away leads to state formation, canal construction, and the payment of tribute. We argue that the first governments coordinated between extended households which implemented public good provision.