Are Anarcho-Capitalists Insane? Medieval Icelandic Living Standards in Comparative Perspective

Vincent Geloso

Along with Peter Leeson, I have a new working paper. In this paper, we empirically revisit the 1979 seminal paper of David Friedman in the Journal of Legal Studies regarding the law and economics of Iceland between 900 and 1262. The case is important because Iceland constitutes the first example in the literature on the economics of anarchy of how governance is a good that can privately be produced and with competition between providers. For nearly three centuries, Iceland was without a formal state (with a monopoly on violence) even though it was home to nearly one hundred thousands individuals. However, sustained private provision does not mean that the outcomes are superior than under formal governance. We decided to see whether Icelanders enjoyed living standards above the rest of Medieval Europe. The paper is available here on my website and the abstract is below:

Medieval Iceland was governed privately. Other…

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