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Institutional obstacles to African economic development: State, ethnicity, and custom

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  • Platteau, Jean-Philippe

Abstract

To account for the African growth tragedy and, in particular, for its causes rooted in governance problems, the institutional legacy that African countries inherited from pre-colonial and colonial times must be considered. Three aspects are examined here. First, the relationship between ethnicity and state performance is bi-directional: if strong ethno-regional identities prevent the emergence of modern citizenship, they themselves constitute an endogenous outcome of continuous state failures. Second, the persistence of informal rules and social norms causes legal dualism, which undermines the credibility of modern statutory law. Third, social customs and norms that hinder socio-economic differentiation and individual capital accumulation lower the performance of indigenous enterprises.

Suggested Citation

  • Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2009. "Institutional obstacles to African economic development: State, ethnicity, and custom," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 669-689, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:3:p:669-689
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    Cited by:

    1. Cecchi, Francesco & Melesse, Mequanint Biset, 2016. "Formal law and customary change: A lab-in-field experiment in Ethiopia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 67-85.
    2. Harrison, Ann E. & Lin, Justin Yifu & Xu, Lixin Colin, 2014. "Explaining Africa’s (Dis)advantage," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 59-77.
    3. Pedro Naso & Erwin Bulte & Tim Swanson, 2017. "Can there be benefits from competing legal regimes? The impact of legal pluralism in post-conflict Sierra Leone," CIES Research Paper series 56-2017, Centre for International Environmental Studies, The Graduate Institute.
    4. Bigsten, Arne & Tengstam, Sven, 2015. "International Coordination and the Effectiveness of Aid," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 75-85.
    5. Gelaw, Fekadu & Speelman, Stijn & Van Huylenbroeck, Guido, 2016. "Farmers’ marketing preferences in local coffee markets: Evidence from a choice experiment in Ethiopia," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 92-102.
    6. Gershman, Boris, 2016. "Witchcraft beliefs and the erosion of social capital: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 182-208.
    7. Oleg Badunenko & Daniel Henderson & Romain Houssa, 2014. "Significant drivers of growth in Africa," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 339-354, December.
    8. Schumacher, Heiner & Hadnes, Myriam, 2010. "Contract Enforcement by the Gods," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Hannover 2010 11, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    9. Juan Pérez Velasco Pavón, 2014. "Economic behavior of indigenous peoples: the Mexican case," Latin American Economic Review, Springer;Centro de Investigaciòn y Docencia Económica (CIDE), vol. 23(1), pages 1-58, December.
    10. Boris Gershman, 2016. "Long-Run Development and the New Cultural Economics," Working Papers 2016-06, American University, Department of Economics.
    11. Romain Houssa & Oleg Badunenko & Daniel J. Henderson, 2010. "Explaining African Growth Performance: A Production-Frontier Approach," Working Papers 1013, University of Namur, Department of Economics.
    12. Bove, Vincenzo & Elia, Leandro, 2017. "Migration, Diversity, and Economic Growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 227-239.
    13. Antonio Estache, 2016. "Institutions for Infrastructure in Developing Countries: What We Know and the Lot We still Need to Know," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2016-27, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    14. repec:eee:wdevel:v:96:y:2017:i:c:p:276-293 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Haagsma, Rein & Mouche, Pierre v., 2013. "Egalitarian norms, economic development, and ethnic polarization," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 719-744.
    16. Mizuno, Nobuhiro, 2016. "Political structure as a legacy of indirect colonial rule: Bargaining between national governments and rural elites in Africa," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 1023-1039.
    17. repec:krk:eberjl:v:3:y:2015:i:1:p:75-85 is not listed on IDEAS

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