DID GRAIN CREATE TRADE AND DEMOCRACY? Matthew Ridley had an article in the Wall Street Journal (April 30/ May 1) discussing a paper which proposes an explanation for why democracy has done better in grain-growing countries. The paper, by Stephen Haber and Victor Menaldo, argues that “historically, stable democracy has depended on the growing of grain, because it is a tradeable commodity and is best grown on a small scale.” Tropical fruits were harder to store and harder to trade. Sheep and cattle were harder to trade as well, especially at sea. Olive oil and wine were tradeable versions of olives and grapes. And trade permitted more specialization and capital accumulation.

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