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

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  • Fenske, James

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

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 22959.

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Date of creation: 15 Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:22959

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Keywords: Africa; Nigeria; Property rights; land tenure; slavery; polygyny;

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  1. Binswanger, Hans P & McIntire, John, 1987. "Behavioral and Material Determinants of Production Relations in Land-Abundant Tropical Agriculture," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 73-99, October.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  3. Nicola Gennaioli & Ilia Rainer, 2007. "The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 185-234, September.
  4. Jonathan Conning, 2004. "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom and the Roads to Agrarian Capitalism: Domar's Hypothesis Revisited," Economics Working Paper Archive at Hunter College 401, Hunter College Department of Economics.
  5. Jutta Bolt & Dirk Bezemer, 2009. "Understanding Long-Run African Growth: Colonial Institutions or Colonial Education?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(1), pages 24-54.
  6. James Fenske, 2009. "Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions?," Working Papers 981, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  7. Elise Huillery, 2009. "History Matters: The Long-Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 176-215, April.
  8. Domar, Evsey D., 1970. "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(01), pages 18-32, March.
  9. Olsson, Ola & Hibbs Jr., Douglas A., 2000. "Biogeography and Long-Run Economic Development," Working Papers in Economics 26, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 11 Aug 2000.
  10. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 903-37, October.
  11. Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2003. "A Bitter Living: Women, Markets, and Social Capital in Early Modern Germany," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198205548.
  12. North, Douglass C. & Thomas, Robert Paul, 1971. "The Rise and Fall of the Manorial System: A Theoretical Model," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(04), pages 777-803, December.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Jacobus Cilliers, 2013. "Coercion, Conflict, and Commodities," OxCarre Working Papers 113, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
  3. Fenske, James, 2010. ""Rubber will not keep in this country": Failed development in Benin, 1897-1921," MPRA Paper 23415, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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