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Analysis of the Article ‘The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood’: Role of The Neolithic Revolution

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1)What is the author attempting to study in the article?

This section of the essay will focus on what the author, Jacob Garner Hariri is focusing his article ‘The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood’ on, what his theory is, and based on what evidence (Jacob Hariri; The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood).

The author expresses that due to countries attempting to colonize other states, it restricted those states to develop their own idea of democracy, whereas countries that were stronger and resisted the attempt to colonize were able to minimize European concepts and ideas influencing them on how the state should be run and the type of government they should have. Furthermore, he goes on to explain how he believes that the countries that were successfully colonized end up being democratic as colonizers would move into those certain countries and thus bring with them political influence from Europe. Countries that were not entirely colonized did however go on to be colonized with an ‘indirect form of colonial rule.’ (Jacob Hariri; The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood, pp 471) He also goes on to say that if countries were ruled indirectly, and did not ‘experience massive European settlement,’ they would be ‘less democratic today’ (Jacob Hariri; ibid, pp 471).

Dependent variables (Y) are the concepts that are being studied and need to be looked at. They are the main purpose why the research is being carried out in the first place. On the other hand, independent variables (X) are notions are cannot be changed; they are there to explain the reason of why dependent variables are being affected. In Hariri’s article, he listed out a few dependent variables he tested out: ‘democracy’, ‘colonization’, ‘colonial duration’, ‘fraction speaking a European language’, ‘extent of indirect rule ’(Jacob Hariri ibid, pp 475- 484). His prime independent variable which he devoted his focus on was ‘early state development’ (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 475).

It is important to have a theory in order to explain why a researcher believes that X caused Y. There must also be enough explanation in order to state the reasons as to how X and Y are related. Proving that there is a link between the independent variable and the dependent variable is also one of the four causal hurdles that need to be studied in order to ensure that the research being carried out is valid. According to Kellstedt and Whitten, ‘the failure to clear this…is a very serious matter; the result being…the theory needs to be thrown out…or we need to revise it’(Kellstedt and Whitten; The Fundamentals of Political Science Research, pp 55). In Hairi’s article, he explains the relationship between his variables through giving background context on the issue in order to back up his theory. He starts off by saying that the way a country is governed affects how well it will do. Secondly, he believes it is important for ‘cultural and historical factors to be taken into consideration as it affects the way a country would run thereafter and it will provide a clear explanation of why certain countries outside of Europe would follow certain beliefs than others in terms of ruling the state (Jacob Hariri, The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood, pp 472). He used examples of other countries in order to further expand on his points and to back up his reasonings. He uses the example of Brazil, whereby small groups within the country tried to rebel when Portugal attempted to overtake them, however it is stated that they only succeeded because the country in itself was unstable and had no strong, cohesive political infrastructure. Another reason was also that those rebellious groups were also enemies amongst each other. Another country he mentioned was Ethiopia, as their state infrastructure was ‘the oldest kingdom-state on the continent’ (Jacob Hariri; ibid, pp 473). They were therefore unbeatable and did not allow themselves to be colonized.

In addition, the author uses IV and OLS to measure his theory. He uses Polity IV to measure his main dependent variable which is democracy. To test his proposal, he then split his research into ‘three proxies for settler penetration and influence’(Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 476). He also uses OLS to address ‘coefficients from OLS regressions of democracy on early state development’(Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 476).

The relationship between the independent variable and the dependent variable can also be said to be negative. This is merely due to the fact that as countries had developed some form of state from early, it would be less likely to get colonized. In addition, the older a state is, the more likely it will not get colonized, therefore causing a decrease in the spread of democratic ideologies.

2)Discuss the potential endogeneity problems.

Hariri states that if the states had stronger infrastructures that were resistant before colonization, and therefore made sure that there was a ‘survival of the polity’, then this would change the ‘findings’(Jacob Hariri, The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood, pp 480). This is due to the fact that it had already been mentioned that the countries that had some sort of infrastructure and therefore had someone in authority were most likely to not be colonized. Furthermore, that might have been due to the efficiency of the infrastructure. This would therefore change the dynamic of what Hariri proposed and that was that ‘early state development constrained the development of democracy’ and the focus of the research would not be a democracy but ‘ centralization of power’ which would ‘bias our estimates away from zero’ (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 480). He further adds that ‘cultural variation’ may also be related to the ‘livelihood of the state and regime development’ and this leads to his introduction of the Neolithic Revolution (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 480), whereby he states that social gratification occurred. He goes on to form an equation with the claim that those that experienced the Neolithic Revolution faster, as well as the social gratification that came with it, they would have ‘developed statehood earlier’ (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 480). In order to test out that the exogenous variables were not of such big impact that it could change the main argument, Hariri imposed another a using IV 2SLS whereby he took into consideration concepts such as ‘geographic, topographic, or climatic factors’ (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 481).

To further add, as seen below, through carrying out different researches, and taking into account other variables that may affect the overall claim, it thus proves the robustness of the overall claim. (Source: Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 488)

Observational data is ‘a research design in which the researcher does not have control over values of the independent variable, which occur naturally’ (Kellstedt and Whitten; The Fundamentals of Political Science Research, pp 83). It is merely observing, and by observing the statistical information and regression results, one can conclude if X causes Y thus reaffirming the theory. Furthermore, other variables that could impact X are also analyzed and tested. These are the confounding variables that Hariri tested, one of them being ‘cultural factors’ through the use of 3SLS (Jacob Hariri, The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood, pp 483). The purpose of these tests are to ensure than X is the main cause of Y and that another factor does not have such a big impact as much as X should have.

With that being said, any researcher that attempts to make a claim that X causes Y, then in order for the research to be valid and credible, one must overcome the hurdles imposed by Kellstedt and Whitten. Firstly, one must be able to clearly explain and establish the causal relationships between X and Y, which Hariri successfully has through his research. For instance, one of his claims, that states that had a form of infrastructure before colonization occurred were harder to colonize and be influenced by democratic ideologies, thus they most likely remained autocratic. This is shown through Table 3 of his IV regressions (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 484). Secondly, it needs to be assessed whether X actually causes Y or if Y can cause X. In this instance, ‘democracy’(Y) would have to cause ‘early state development’(X) (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 475-476). This does not make sense as the main argument as some countries already had preceding ideologies, and therefore did not welcome democracy. Therefore, in this instance Y cannot cause X. Furthermore, Hariri recognizes that some factors may arise whereby they may give the impression that they are the independent variable and that they both cause X and Y. Those are the ‘Z variables’(Kellstedt and Whitten, The Fundamentals of Political Science Research, pp 56). In that case, he recognizes the Neolithic Revolution and how that could have been a potential barrier. Despite that, in his research, he says that ‘the timing of the Neolithic Revolution has no effect on democracy other than through its effect on early state development’ (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 481).

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3) Describe the research design which the author uses in the article.

The author did opt for an observational study and used quantitative data in order to support his claims. The quantitative data can be seen through the author’s charts, where he used equations in order to analyze different countries and different dependent variables as well as confounding variables. (Source: Jacob Hariri, The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood,pp477)

Through the use of OLS, he came up with the following equation: ‘Di=αD+δsSi+ βDXi+ϵDi’ in order to test out his theory and determine if countries that had ‘early state development’ meant they would most likely end up being autocratic instead of democratic (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 476). This would also be the case even if some countries ended up being colonially ruled through indirect forms. From the regression, he comes to conclusions such as ‘if the United States…had the same pre-colonial state development as China’ then the democracy status in the United States would subsequently end up reducing by ‘-4.98 polity2 units’ (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp476). Therefore, through this Hariri succeeds in proving that if countries had a strong front and strong infrastructures before colonization, they would be less democratic.

Through the observation of his data, it is clear that he used a cross-sectional approach in order to study his theory. Cross-sectional studies are studies whereby one examines ‘a cross-section of social reality (Kellstedt and Whitten; The Fundamentals of Political Science Research, pp 85). In this instance, by looking at Hariri’s article, it can be seen that his studies are based on different non-European provinces.

For Hariri’s IV regressions on his independent variable, he included the Neolithic Revolution in his studies through the equation below: ‘Si=αs+δtTi+βsXi+ϵsi’ (Jacob Hariri, The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood, pp 480). His aim was to prove that certain countries developed quicker due to this revolution and the development of professions. His 2SLS results show that there is definitely an affiliation between the ‘Neolithic Revolution and early state development’(Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 481). His results are persistent with the OLS results, in the sense that they both lead to the same conclusion. To ensure that this variable was not a variable that had an effect on the dependent variable, he then included more concepts in which the Revolution might have also affected, which were ‘ruggedness, precipitation…temperature’ however they did not affect the original findings from the IV regressions in Table 3 (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 481-483). Table 3, Panel C illustrates the following results from the controls: ‘0.62, 0.82, 0.67’ and so on with the dependent variable being speaking a European Language. This means that all the countries that had developed early would have very few Europeans settling in their countries (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 484).

Furthermore, he argues that if countries outside of Europe were colonized, then they would be more likely to follow democratic rules. Even if the settlement was not big, they could be ruled indirectly through ways that the colonizers would think that they could control already existing institutions through. If a country was colonized, they would be affiliated with democratic ideologies afterward. The regression results in Table 4 of Hariri’s article goes in hand with this argument and findings using the ACLP indicator are that 0.22 percent of countries that were colonized will end up following the democratic path.

4) What does the author do in order to attempt to establish causality?

As seen in above, in order to be able to prove that X and Y have a genuine relationship, the hurdles must be overcome. One of the main issues one must overcome when conducting observational research is ensuring that the Z variables or any other variables are controlled and studied. Rightly so, ‘X and Y is generated by actually producing different values in a dependent variable, Y’(Warren E. Miller, Temporal Order and Causal Inference, pp 122). Through any of the concepts studied by Hariri, he managed to describe the link between those concepts and how they ultimately relate to his main argument or his main independent variable. This is seen through his IV research in Table 3 whereby he involves ‘controls for the quality of soil’ (Jacob Hariri, The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood, pp 483).

Hariri’s main independent variable is as mentioned before, ‘early state development’ (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 475). In order to prove the causal affiliation between his independent variable and his dependent variable, he used multiple other variables in order to show how they all interlink. His overall prognosis were that those with predeveloped infrastructures were unlikely to experience colonization; those countries, therefore, did not turn to democracy; some countries that did not experience colonization did however experience being ruled indirectly; and despite the ‘indirect colonial rule they were unlikely to turn to democracy (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 475). He then proceeds to say that those are to be analyzed as they ‘explain why an early development of statehood…was a historical impediment to the development of democracy) (Jacob Hariri, ibid).

This can be seen through Table 1(as seen above) whereby he conducted the search through OLS. (Source: Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp477)

His research is constructed through the use of ‘DFBETA’ whereby 111 countries were studied in this regression table (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 476-478). This, therefore, strengthens his theory as he focuses on multiple countries at once while also considering other factors. He also mentions that countries that resisted colonization, such as the ‘Middle East and Eastern Africa…are autocracies today’ (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp478). This is shown in the chart as for instance, Middle East’s coefficient was 0.15 and 1.07 which is relatively low. Furthermore, as also seen, column 10 shows the democracy coefficient being -235, thus reiterating the theory that countries that had previous political infrastructure would not end up being related to anything democratic in contemporary society.

In conclusion, Hariri lays out his independent variable(X) and dependent variables(X) and carries out robust experiments in order to explain how the variables interlink, especially the dependent variables. Despite different variables used, his ‘results proved very robust to both OLS and IV estimation, to different samples, to different democracy indices, and to a host of exogenous controls’ (Jacob Hariri, ibid, pp 489) and his theory remained consistent throughout.

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Analysis of the Article ‘The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood’: Role of The Neolithic Revolution. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 5, 2023, from
“Analysis of the Article ‘The Autocratic Legacy of Early Statehood’: Role of The Neolithic Revolution.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
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