The Colonial Origins of Inequality: Exploring the Causes and Consequences of Land Distribution
AbstractRecent literature has pointed out that the historical distribution of assets is crucial in explaining the observed rigidity in post-war income inequality levels. This paper explores the causes and consequences of historical land distribution employing new and existing estimates of land inequality in cross-country OLS regressions. The two central questions addressed are 1) what explains the cross-country variation in land inequality at the end of the colonial period? 2) how does initial land inequality relate to current income inequality? It is shown that land distribution is determined by (colonial) institutions responding to relative factor endowments and natural geographic conditions as the disease environment and the feasibility to grow particular food- or cash-crops. Local conditions and institutional responses differed largely from region to region. Whereas the direct relation between initial land inequality and income inequality appears to be weak, controlling for (colonial) institutional variables reveals a strong relation between initial land inequality and current (1990’s) income inequality. High levels of income inequality, specifically in Sub Saharan Africa and Latin America, are shown to have fundamentally different colonial origins.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research in its series Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers with number 119.
Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 21 Oct 2005
Date of revision:
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Colonial institutions; geography; factor endowments; land distribution; income distribution;
Other versions of this item:
- Frankema, Ewout, 2006. "The Colonial Origins of Inequality: Exploring the Causes and Consequences of Land Distribution," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-81, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
- N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
- N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
- O15 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
- P51 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems
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