From The University of Warwick (UK) via phys.org: “Study sheds new light on the origin of civilization”

From The University of Warwick (UK)

via

phys.org

April 11, 2022
Sheila Kiggins, University of Warwick

1
Credit: University of Warwick

New research from the University of Warwick, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem הַאוּנִיבֶרְסִיטָה הַעִבְרִית בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם‎ (IL), The Reichman University אוניברסיטת רייכמן(IL),Pompeu Fabra University [Universitat Pompeu Fabra](ES) and The Barcelona School of Economics (ES) challenges the conventional theory that the transition from foraging to farming drove the development of complex, hierarchical societies by creating agricultural surplus in areas of fertile land.

In The Origin of the State: Land Productivity or Appropriability?, published in the April issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Professors Joram Mayshar, Omer Moav and Luigi Pascali show that high land productivity on its own does not lead to the development of tax-levying states.

It is the adoption of cereal crops that is the key factor for the emergence of hierarchy. Professor Moav explains in this short video:


How farming shaped the world

The authors theorize that this is because the nature of cereals require that they be harvested and stored in accessible locations, making them easier to appropriate as tax than root crops which remain in the ground, and are less storable.

The researchers demonstrate a causal effect of cereal cultivation on the emergence of hierarchy using empirical evidence drawn from multiple data sets spanning several millennia, and find no similar effect for land productivity.

Professor Mayshar said: “A theory linking land productivity and surplus to the emergence of hierarchy has developed over a few centuries and became conventional in thousands of books and articles. We show, both theoretically and empirically, that this theory is flawed.”

Underpinning the study, Mayshar, Moav and Pascali developed and examined a large number of data sets including the level of hierarchical complexity in society; the geographic distribution of wild relatives of domesticated plants; and land suitability for various crops to explore why in some regions, despite thousands of years of successful farming, well-functioning states did not emerge, while states that could tax and provide protection to lives and property emerged elsewhere.

Professor Pascali said: “Using these novel data, we were able to show that complex hierarchies, like complex chiefdoms and states, arose in areas in which cereal crops, which are easy to tax and to expropriate, were de-facto the only available crops. Paradoxically, the most productive lands, those in which not only cereals but also roots and tubers were available and productive, did not experience the same political developments.”

They also employed the natural experiment of the Columbian Exchange, the interchange of crops between the New World and the Old World in the late 15th century which radically changed land productivity and the productivity advantage of cereals over roots and tubers in most countries in the world.

Professor Pascali said “Constructing these new data sets, investigating case studies, and developing the theory and empirical strategy took us nearly a decade of hard work. We are very pleased to see that the paper is finally printed in a journal with the standing of the JPE.”

Professor Moav said: “Following the transition from foraging to farming hierarchical societies and eventually tax-levying states have emerged. These states played a crucial role in economic development by providing protection, law and order, which eventually enabled industrialization and the unprecedented welfare enjoyed today in many countries.”

“The conventional theory is that this disparity is due to differences in land productivity. The conventional argument is that food surplus must be produced before a state can tax farmers’ crops, and therefore that high land productivity plays the key role.

Professor Mayshar added: “We challenge the conventional productivity theory, contending that it was not an increase in food production that led to complex hierarchies and states, but rather the transition to reliance on appropriable cereal grains that facilitate taxation by the emerging elite. When it became possible to appropriate crops, a taxing elite emerged, and this led to the state.

“Only where the climate and geography favored cereals was hierarchy likely to develop. Our data shows that the greater the productivity advantage of cereals over tubers, the greater the likelihood of hierarchy emerging.

“Suitability of highly productive roots and tubers is in fact a curse of plenty, which prevented the emergence of states and impeded economic development.”

See the full article here.

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The establishment of the The University of Warwick (UK) was given approval by the government in 1961 and received its Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1965.

The idea for a university in Coventry was mooted shortly after the conclusion of the Second World War but it was a bold and imaginative partnership of the City and the County which brought the University into being on a 400-acre site jointly granted by the two authorities. Since then, the University has incorporated the former Coventry College of Education in 1978 and has extended its land holdings by the purchase of adjoining farm land.

The University initially admitted a small intake of graduate students in 1964 and took its first 450 undergraduates in October 1965. In October 2013, the student population was over 23,000 of which 9,775 are postgraduates. Around a third of the student body comes from overseas and over 120 countries are represented on the campus.

The University of Warwick is a public research university on the outskirts of Coventry between the West Midlands and Warwickshire, England. The University was founded in 1965 as part of a government initiative to expand higher education. The Warwick Business School was established in 1967, the Warwick Law School in 1968, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) in 1980, and Warwick Medical School in 2000. Warwick incorporated Coventry College of Education in 1979 and Horticulture Research International in 2004.

Warwick is primarily based on a 290 hectares (720 acres) campus on the outskirts of Coventry, with a satellite campus in Wellesbourne and a central London base at the Shard. It is organised into three faculties — Arts, Science Engineering and Medicine, and Social Sciences — within which there are 32 departments. As of 2019, Warwick has around 26,531 full-time students and 2,492 academic and research staff. It had a consolidated income of £679.9 million in 2019/20, of which £131.7 million was from research grants and contracts. Warwick Arts Centre is a multi-venue arts complex in the university’s main campus and is the largest venue of its kind in the UK, which is not in London.

Warwick has an average intake of 4,950 undergraduates out of 38,071 applicants (7.7 applicants per place).

Warwick is a member of Association of Commonwealth Universities (UK), the Association of MBAs, EQUIS, the European University Association (EU), the Midlands Innovation group, the Russell Group (UK), Sutton 13. It is the only European member of the Center for Urban Science and Progress, a collaboration with New York University (US). The university has extensive commercial activities, including the University of Warwick Science Park and Warwick Manufacturing Group.

Warwick’s alumni and staff include winners of the Nobel Prize, Turing Award, Fields Medal, Richard W. Hamming Medal, Emmy Award, Grammy, and the Padma Vibhushan, and are fellows to the British Academy, the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society. Alumni also include heads of state, government officials, leaders in intergovernmental organisations, and the current chief economist at the Bank of England. Researchers at Warwick have also made significant contributions such as the development of penicillin, music therapy, Washington Consensus, Second-wave feminism, computing standards, including ISO and ECMA, complexity theory, contract theory, and the International Political Economy as a field of study.

Twentieth century

The idea for a university in Warwickshire was first mooted shortly after World War II, although it was not founded for a further two decades. A partnership of the city and county councils ultimately provided the impetus for the university to be established on a 400-acre (1.6 km^2) site jointly granted by the two authorities. There was some discussion between local sponsors from both the city and county over whether it should be named after Coventry or Warwickshire. The name “University of Warwick” was adopted, even though Warwick, the county town, lies some 8 miles (13 km) to its southwest and Coventry’s city centre is only 3.5 miles (5.6 km) northeast of the campus. The establishment of the University of Warwick was given approval by the government in 1961 and it received its Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1965. Since then, the university has incorporated the former Coventry College of Education in 1979 and has extended its land holdings by the continuing purchase of adjoining farm land. The university also benefited from a substantial donation from the family of John ‘Jack’ Martin, a Coventry businessman who had made a fortune from investment in Smirnoff vodka, and which enabled the construction of the Warwick Arts Centre.

The university initially admitted a small intake of graduate students in 1964 and took its first 450 undergraduates in October 1965. Since its establishment Warwick has expanded its grounds to 721 acres (2.9 km^2), with many modern buildings and academic facilities, lakes, and woodlands. In the 1960s and 1970s, Warwick had a reputation as a politically radical institution.

Under Vice-Chancellor Lord Butterworth, Warwick was the first UK university to adopt a business approach to higher education, develop close links with the business community and exploit the commercial value of its research. These tendencies were discussed by British historian and then-Warwick lecturer, E. P. Thompson, in his 1970 edited book Warwick University Ltd.

The Leicester Warwick Medical School, a new medical school based jointly at Warwick and University of Leicester (UK), opened in September 2000.

On the recommendation of Tony Blair, Bill Clinton chose Warwick as the venue for his last major foreign policy address as US President in December 2000. Sandy Berger, Clinton’s National Security Advisor, explaining the decision in a press briefing on 7 December 2000, said that: “Warwick is one of Britain’s newest and finest research universities, singled out by Prime Minister Blair as a model both of academic excellence and independence from the government.”

Twenty-first century
The university was seen as a favoured institution of the Labour government during the New Labour years (1997 to 2010). It was academic partner for a number of flagship Government schemes including the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth and the NHS University (now defunct). Tony Blair described Warwick as “a beacon among British universities for its dynamism, quality and entrepreneurial zeal”. In a 2012 study by Virgin Media Business, Warwick was described as the most “digitally-savvy” UK university.

In February 2001, IBM donated a new S/390 computer and software worth £2 million to Warwick, to form part of a “Grid” enabling users to remotely share computing power. In April 2004 Warwick merged with the Wellesbourne and Kirton sites of Horticulture Research International. In July 2004 Warwick was the location for an important agreement between the Labour Party and the trade unions on Labour policy and trade union law, which has subsequently become known as the “Warwick Agreement”.

In June 2006 the new University Hospital Coventry opened, including a 102,000 sq ft (9,500 m^2) university clinical sciences building. Warwick Medical School was granted independent degree-awarding status in 2007, and the School’s partnership with the University of Leicester was dissolved in the same year. In February 2010, Lord Bhattacharyya, director and founder of the WMG unit at Warwick, made a £1 million donation to the university to support science grants and awards.

In February 2012 Warwick and Melbourne-based Monash University (AU) announced the formation of a strategic partnership, including the creation of 10 joint senior academic posts, new dual master’s and joint doctoral degrees, and co-ordination of research programmes. In March 2012 Warwick and Queen Mary, University of London announced the creation of a strategic partnership, including research collaboration, some joint teaching of English, history and computer science undergraduates, and the creation of eight joint post-doctoral research fellowships.

In April 2012 it was announced that Warwick would be the only European university participating in the Center for Urban Science and Progress, an applied science research institute to be based in New York consisting of an international consortium of universities and technology companies led by New York University (US) and NYU Tandon School of Engineering (US). In August 2012, Warwick and five other Midlands-based universities — Aston University (UK), the University of Birmingham (UK), the University of Leicester (UK), Loughborough University (UK) and the University of Nottingham — formed the M5 Group, a regional bloc intended to maximise the member institutions’ research income and enable closer collaboration.

In September 2013 it was announced that a new National Automotive Innovation Centre would be built by WMG at Warwick’s main campus at a cost of £100 million, with £50 million to be contributed by Jaguar Land Rover and £30 million by Tata Motors.

In July 2014, the government announced that Warwick would be the host for the £1 billion Advanced Propulsion Centre, a joint venture between the Automotive Council and industry. The ten-year programme intends to position the university and the UK as leaders in the field of research into the next generation of automotive technology.

In September 2015, Warwick celebrated its 50th anniversary (1965–2015) and was designated “University of the Year” by The Times and The Sunday Times.

Research

In 2013/14 Warwick had a total research income of £90.1 million, of which £33.9 million was from Research Councils; £25.9 million was from central government, local authorities and public corporations; £12.7 million was from the European Union; £7.9 million was from UK industry and commerce; £5.2 million was from UK charitable bodies; £4.0 million was from overseas sources; and £0.5 million was from other sources.

In the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework (REF), Warwick was again ranked 7th overall (as 2008) amongst multi-faculty institutions and was the top-ranked university in the Midlands. Some 87% of the University’s academic staff were rated as being in “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” departments with top research ratings of 4* or 3*.

Warwick is particularly strong in the areas of decision sciences research (economics, finance, management, mathematics and statistics). For instance, researchers of the Warwick Business School have won the highest prize of the prestigious European Case Clearing House (ECCH: the equivalent of the Oscars in terms of management research).

Warwick has established a number of stand-alone units to manage and extract commercial value from its research activities. The four most prominent examples of these units are University of Warwick Science Park; Warwick HRI; Warwick Ventures (the technology transfer arm of the University); and WMG.