Last night, I ended up spending an undue amount of time following the #Ferguson feed on Twitter and watching insanity unfold in real time. Here are a couple of papers I’ve written that might be relevant:

1. “Inputs and Institutions as Conservative Elements.” Published version here, ungated and old SSRN version here.


This essay examines economic stagnation by extending the argument that capital goods and “conservative elements” to the analysis of social capital and institutions in the post-Reconstruction South. It is argued that the structure of social capital that developed in the South was inappropriate to the formal institutions that emerged as a result of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The tensions between institutions and social capital are examined in the context of racist lynching.

2. “The Political Economy of the Reconstruction Era’s Race Riots.” Published. Accepted version. 2010 WP version that’s basically a different paper.


This paper analyzes the political economy of the Reconstruction Era’s (1865-1877) race riots through the economic logic of rules. The central argument is that the race riots were not an inevitable outcome at the end of the Civil War, but instead occurred because of the absence of effective rules to raise the cost of engaging in violence. We offer a general framework of ‘rule stickiness’ to analyze the process of rule reform. This framework offers insight into the conditions influencing the enforcement costs of formal rules, as well as the likelihood of third-party enforcers effectively monitoring and punishing rule breakers. The Memphis race riot of 1866 is provided as a case study to illuminate the explanatory power of the theoretical framework.

Please email me if you would like PDFs of the published versions, and I’ll be happy to send them to you.