What Does It Take for a Roving Bandit to Settle Down? Theory and an Illustrative History of the Visigoths
52 Pages Posted: 18 May 2015 Last revised: 17 Jun 2016
Date Written: July 1, 2016
A roving bandit provides exclusive (rivalrous) collective goods to members of its in- group. A stationary bandit further provides inclusive (nonrivalrous; public) collective goods to the out-group. The inclusive goods are an input to the production of the exclusive goods enjoyed by the in-group. As such, the transition from roving to stationary bandit is likely to involve the redefinition of the in-group, its collective interest, and the type of goods that it provides. To illustrate these points, I employ a case study of the roving Visigothic confederacy as it evolved during the fourth and fifth centuries towards the stationary Visigothic Kingdom. The illustration provides insights into why competition amongst roving bandits does not always (or often) lead to the emergence of a non-predatory state.
Keywords: collective action problems, governance institutions, state emergence, roving versus stationary bandits, Visigoths, Roman Empire, ancient economic history, nation building
JEL Classification: D72, N43, N93, P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation