We discuss the institutional drivers of economic growth. We argue that increasing inequality of influence undermines the elite’s ability to commit credibly to political contracts and reach consensus. We validate this claim by examining the political economy of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. We build a vast genealogical dataset covering the family network of the political elite. We provide new annual measures of socio-political influence between 1569 and 1772. We demonstrate that influence concentration by the oligarchs in the absence of enforcement of their political contracts led to parliamentary gridlock and state failure. This contributed to the economic malaise of Eastern Europe.
Mikolaj Malinowski (jointly with Marek Minakowski)