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Land abundance and economic institutions: Egba land and slavery, 1830–1914

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  • JAMES FENSKE

Abstract

The ``land abundance'' view of African history uses sparse population to explain economic institutions. I provide supporting evidence from the Egba of Nigeria. I use early colonial court records to show that Egba institutions fit the theory's predictions. Before 1914, the Egba had poorly defined land rights, practiced extensive agriculture, relied on dependant and forced labor, and used labor to secure loans. There are two major exceptions. First, the Egba sold some land. Second, land disputes existed. These are explained by land scarcity when the Egba initially arrived at Abeokuta and by heterogeneity in the quality of land.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Economic History Society in its journal The Economic History Review.

Volume (Year): 65 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 527-555

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:65:y:2012:i:2:p:527-555

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  1. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2005. "Colonialism, Inequality, and Long-Run Paths of Development," NBER Working Papers 11057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Fenske, James, 2009. "Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions?," Working Papers 74, Yale University, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Steven Nafziger & Peter Lindert, 2011. "Russian Inequality on the Eve of Revolution," Department of Economics Working Papers 2013-13, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Sep 2013.
  2. James Fenske, 2012. "Rubber will not keep in this country: Failed Development in Benin, 1897-1921," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _108, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  3. Tracy Dennison & Steven Nafziger, 2011. "Micro-Perspectives on Living Standards in Nineteenth-Century Russia," Department of Economics Working Papers 2011-07, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  4. Jacobus Cilliers, 2013. "Coercion, Conflict, and Commodities," OxCarre Working Papers 113, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
  5. Bezemer, Dirk & Bolt, Jutta & Lensink, Robert, 2014. "Slavery, Statehood, and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 148-163.

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