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Does land abundance explain African institutions?

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  • Fenske, James

Abstract

I show how abundant land and scarce labor shaped African institutions before colonial rule. I present a model in which exogenous land quality and endogenously evolving population determine the existence of land rights, slavery, and polygyny. I use cross-sectional data on pre-colonial African societies to demonstrate that, as in the model, the existence of land rights, slavery, and polygyny occurred where land was most suitable for agriculture, and where population density was greatest. These results are robust to alternative measures of institutions and historical population, and better fit the data than alternative theories of slavery.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 23222.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:23222

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Keywords: Land tenure; slavery; polygyny; states; Africa;

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References

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  1. Poirier, Dale J., 1980. "Partial observability in bivariate probit models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 209-217, February.
  2. Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-Term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176, 02.
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  4. Paul Collier & Jan Willem Gunning, 1997. "Explaining African economic performance," CSAE Working Paper Series 1997-02.2, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
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  13. Cantoni, Davide & Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A. & Johnson, Simon, 2010. "The Consequences of Radical Reform: The French Revolution," Munich Reprints in Economics 20003, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  15. 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.
  16. Fitsum Hagos & Stein Holden, 2006. "Tenure security, resource poverty, public programs, and household plot-level conservation investments in the highlands of northern Ethiopia," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 34(2), pages 183-196, 03.
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  20. Michele Tertilt, 2005. "Polygyny, Fertility, and Savings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1341-1370, December.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Africa was underpopulated
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-01-13 01:36:00
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Cited by:
  1. Jerven , Morten & Austin , Gareth & Green, Erik & Uche , Chibuike & Frankema , Ewout & Fourie , Johan & Inikori , Joseph & Moradi , Alexander & Hillbom , Ellen, 2012. "Moving Forward in African Economic History: Bridging the Gap Between Methods and Sources," African Economic History Working Paper 1/2012, African Economic History Network.
  2. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2011. "The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0762, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  3. James Fenske, 2012. "Ecology, trade and states in pre-colonial Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2012-18, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  4. James Fenske, 2012. "Land abundance and economic institutions: Egba land and slavery, 1830–1914," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(2), pages 527-555, 05.
  5. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2010. "Divide and Rule or the Rule of the Divided? Evidence from Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 8088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Ewout Frankema & Marlous van Waijenburg, 2011. "African Real Wages in Asian Perspective, 1880-1940," Working Papers 0002, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  7. Margherita Bottero & Björn Wallace, 2013. "Is There a Long-Term Effect of Africa's Slave Trades?," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 30, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  8. Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & David N. Weil, 2013. "Malaria and Early African Development: Evidence from the Sickle Cell Trait," NBER Working Papers 19603, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Boris Gershman, 2013. "The Economic Origins of the Evil Eye Belief," Working Papers 2013-14, American University, Department of Economics.
  10. Denis Cogneau & Yannick Dupraz, 2014. "Questionable Inference on the Power of Pre-Colonial Institutions in Africa," PSE Working Papers halshs-01018548, HAL.
  11. Nils-Petter Lagerlöf, 2010. "Pacifying monogamy," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 235-262, September.

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