Sizes and Number of States from 3000 BCE to 2100 CE

February 6, 2023 | 12:00PM - 2:00PM
Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Europe, Russia & Eurasia, Economy & prosperity, Government & politics

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1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON, M5S 3K7

States typically have lasted 100 years at top size (rarely over 200) before shrinking. Political concentration of the world has grown exponentially over the last 5000 years, as measured by four quantities: the largest state’s share of world dry land area (A1/AW); the most populous state’s share of world population (P1/PW); area-based effective number of states (NA); population-based effective number of states (NP). Jointly, they point to a single world state 2600 years from now, if (and only if) the previous trend continues. Within 5000 years of concentration, Rein Taagepera and Miroslav Nemcok, More People, Fewer States (manuscript), distinguish three acceleration points: early state formation around -3200, leading to Runner Empires; horse-riding and authority delegation breakthroughs around -600, leading to Rider Empires; and modern technology around 1800, leading to Engineer Empires. In the Engineer phase, population concentration seems to fall below the millennial trend. When one attempts to postdict the next 100 years in 1200, 1300 and so on, based on full knowledge of previous empire sizes, one would mostly grossly off the mark. The last 70 years have been unusually stable. This cannot be expected to last.

Speaker bio

Professor Rein Taagepera is interested in quantitatively predictive logical models in social sciences. He has published seminal research on predicting the number and size of parties on the basis of electoral systems, and the consequences for government stability. His books include: Making Social Sciences More Scientific: The Need for Predictive Models. (Oxford UP 2008); Predicting Party Sizes: The Logic of Simple Electoral Systems (Oxford UP 2007). Seats and Votes: The Effects and Determinants of Electoral Systems (with M. S. Shugart) (Yale University Press, 1989). Taagepera has been awarded two of the most prestigious prizes in political science: the Karl Deutsch Award (International Political Science Association, 2016) and the Johann Skytte Prize (Skytte Foundation, Sweden, 2008). This places him in the exalted company of recipients Robert Putnam, Juan Linz, Pippa Norris and Jane Mansbridge. Additionally, Taagepera contributed to the restoration of Estonia’s independence and its transition to a successful democracy, including as a presidential candidate and the founder of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Tartu. His The Baltic States: Years of Dependence, 1940-1990 (Hurst & University of California Press, 1993) is the classic study of Soviet rule.

Sponsored by The Chair of Estonian Studies and co-sponsored by the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies
Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Europe, Russia & Eurasia, Economy & prosperity, Government & politics
For more information, please contact Daria Glazkova;


Prof. Rein Taagepera

Professor Emeritus, University of California, Irvine and University of Tartu, Estonia