Federalism and the Balance of Power: China's Han and Tang Dynasties and the Roman Empire
21 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2009
This paper compares the institutional history of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), Tang Dynasty (AD 618-AD 906) and the Roman Empire (27 BC-AD 476). I document a common institutional reform in all three cases: the central government assumed power to appoint key regional officials and diffused authority across a greater number of regional officials. I argue that this served to increase coordination costs among key regional officials, making rebellion and resistance to central directives more costly. As a result, this institutional reform shifted the balance of power toward the central government, giving it more control.
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