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Ecology, trade and states in pre-colonial Africa

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  • James Fenske

Abstract

State capacity matters for growth. I test Bates’ explanation of pre-colonial African states. He argues that trade across ecological boundaries promoted states. I find that African societies in ecologically diverse environments had more centralized states. This is robust to reverse causation, omitted heterogeneity, and alternative interpretations of the link between diversity and states. Ecological diversity also predicts states outside of Africa. I test mechanisms connecting trade to states, and find that trade supported class stratification between rulers and ruled. I underscore the importance of ethnic institutions and inform our knowledge of the effects of geography and trade on institutions.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2012-18.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2012-18

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  1. New historical development papers on my desk
    by Robin in Cherokee Gothic on 2013-04-18 13:00:05
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Cited by:
  1. James Fenske, 2012. "African Polygamy: Past and Present," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2012-20, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. James Fenske & Namrata Kala, 2012. "Climate, Ecosystem Resilience and the Slave Trade," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2012-23, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  3. Mayshar, Joram & Moav, Omer & Neeman, Zvika, 2011. "Transparency, Appropriability and the Early State," CEPR Discussion Papers 8548, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Philip Osafo-Kwaako & James A. Robinson, 2013. "Political Centralization in Pre-Colonial Africa," NBER Working Papers 18770, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Osafo-Kwaako, Philip & Robinson, James A., 2013. "Political centralization in pre-colonial Africa," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 6-21.

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