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Institutional obstacles to African economic development: State, ethnicity, and custom

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  • Platteau, Jean-Philippe

Abstract

To account for the African growth tragedy and, in particular, for its causes rooted in governance problems, the institutional legacy that African countries inherited from pre-colonial and colonial times must be considered. Three aspects are examined here. First, the relationship between ethnicity and state performance is bi-directional: if strong ethno-regional identities prevent the emergence of modern citizenship, they themselves constitute an endogenous outcome of continuous state failures. Second, the persistence of informal rules and social norms causes legal dualism, which undermines the credibility of modern statutory law. Third, social customs and norms that hinder socio-economic differentiation and individual capital accumulation lower the performance of indigenous enterprises.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 71 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 669-689

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:3:p:669-689

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Africa Culture Religion State failure Legal dualism Social norms Ethnicity;

References

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  1. Timur Kuran, 2004. "Why the Middle East is Economically Underdeveloped: Historical Mechanisms of Institutional Stagnation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 71-90, Summer.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Harrison, Ann E. & Lin, Justin Yifu & Xu, L. Colin, 2013. "Explaining Africa's (Dis)advantage," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6316, The World Bank.
  2. Haagsma, Rein & Mouche, Pierre v., 2013. "Egalitarian norms, economic development, and ethnic polarization," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 719-744.
  3. Oleg Badunenko & Daniel J. Henderson & Romain Houssa, 2012. "Significant Drivers of Growth in Africa," Working Papers 1208, University of Namur, Department of Economics.
  4. Schumacher, Heiner & Hadnes, Myriam, 2010. "Contract Enforcement by the Gods," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Hannover 2010 11, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  5. Mizuno, Nobuhiro, 2013. "Political Structure as a Legacy of Indirect Colonial Rule: Bargaining between National Governments and Rural Elites in Africa," MPRA Paper 48771, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Romain Houssa & Oleg Badunenko & Daniel J. Henderson, 2010. "Explaining African Growth Performance: A Production-Frontier Approach," Working Papers 1013, University of Namur, Department of Economics.

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