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Pre‐Colonial Ethnic Institutions and Contemporary African Development

Listed author(s):
  • 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 obtains also within pairs of adjacent ethnic homelands with different legacies of pre-colonial political institutions.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.3982/ECTA9613
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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
DOI: ECTA9613
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  1. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
  2. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2008. "Malthusian Population Dynamics: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 2008-6, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. Fenske, James, 2009. "Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions?," Working Papers 74, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  5. Bockstette, Valerie & Chanda, Areendam & Putterman, Louis, 2002. "States and Markets: The Advantage of an Early Start," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 347-369, December.
  6. 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.
  7. Nunn, Nathan & Puga, Diego, 2007. "Ruggedness: The Blessing of Bad Geography in Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 6253, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Doll, Christopher N.H. & Muller, Jan-Peter & Morley, Jeremy G., 2006. "Mapping regional economic activity from night-time light satellite imagery," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 75-92, April.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson, 2005. "Unbundling Institutions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 949-995, October.
  10. Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "Direct versus Indirect Colonial Rule in India: Long-Term Consequences," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 693-713, November.
  11. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2013. "The 'Out of Africa' Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 1-46, February.
  12. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2006. "Robust Inference with Multi-way Clustering," NBER Technical Working Papers 0327, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2008. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 981-1022, December.
  14. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/10262 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Rachel Glennerster & Edward Miguel & Alexander Rothenberg, 2010. "Collective Action in Diverse Sierra Leone Communities," NBER Working Papers 16196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Nathan Nunn & Leonard Wantchekon, 2011. "The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3221-3252, December.
  17. Ashraf, Quamrul & Galor, Oded, 2008. "Human Genetic Diversity and Comparative Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 6824, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2003-2041, August.
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