In the literature on the new institutional economics it is now standard to refer to the deficiencies of the legal and contractual systems and of the regulatory state as blocking economic progress. In understanding the history of underdevelopment of countries like India one, however, needs to go beyond these obviously important issues and focus upon institutional impediments that are outcomes of distributive conflicts and the collective action problems they exacerbate. These collective action problems arise both at the level of the state (inefficient interventionism may only be a symptom of those underlying problems) and at the level of the local community.


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