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Pre‐Colonial Ethnic Institutions and Contemporary African Development

  • Stelios Michalopoulos
  • Elias Papaioannou

We investigate the role of deeply-rooted pre-colonial ethnic institutions in shaping comparative regional development within African countries. We combine information on the spatial distribution of ethnicities before colonization with regional variation in contemporary economic performance, as proxied by satellite images of light density at night. We document a strong association between pre-colonial ethnic political centralization and regional development. This pattern is not driven by differences in local geographic features or by other observable ethnic-specific cultural and economic variables. The strong positive association between pre-colonial political complexity and contemporary development also holds within pairs of adjacent ethnic homelands with different legacies of pre-colonial political institutions.

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Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 81 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (01)
Pages: 113-152

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Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:81:y:2013:i:1:p:113-152
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  1. Cameron, A. Colin & Gelbach, Jonah B. & Miller, Douglas L., 2011. "Robust Inference With Multiway Clustering," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 29(2), pages 238-249.
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  13. 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.
  14. 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.
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