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State Formation and Governance in Botswana

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  • James A. Robinson
  • Q. Neil Parsons

Abstract

Our analysis begins with the puzzle: how did Botswana develop a legal-rational state? We suggest that three key interlinked factors were important. First, during the pre-colonial period the Tswana developed local states with relatively limited kingship or chiefship and with a political structure that was able to integrate people of other ethnic groups such as Kalanga. Second, facing the onslaught first of the Boers, next of the British South Africa Company, and finally of the Union of South Africa, Tswana political elites attempted to maintain a good measure of independence by defensively modernizing. Finally, the political elites in both local states before independence and the national state at independence heavily invested in the country's most important economic activity, ranching. This gave them a strong incentive to promote rational state institutions and private property. Moreover, the integrative nature of traditional Tswana political institutions reduced the likelihood that alternative groups would aggressively contest the power of the new unitary state. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • James A. Robinson & Q. Neil Parsons, 2006. "State Formation and Governance in Botswana," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(1), pages 100-140, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:15:y:2006:i:1:p:100-140
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    Cited by:

    1. Baland, Jean-Marie & Moene, Karl Ove & Robinson, James A., 2010. "Governance and Development," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
    2. Ashok Chakravarti, 2012. "Institutions, Economic Performance and the Visible Hand," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14751.
    3. Augustin Kwasi Fosu, 2011. "Terms of Trade and Growth of Resource Economies: A Tale of Two Countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 028, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Mogens Justesen & Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, 2013. "Institutional interactions and economic growth: the joint effects of property rights, veto players and democratic capital," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 449-474, December.
    5. Foa, R., 2012. "The Role of Social Institutions in Determining Aid Effectiveness," ISD Working Paper Series 2012-02, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    6. RonaldA Edwards, 2009. "Federalism And The Balance Of Power: China'S Han And Tang Dynasties And The Roman Empire," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 1-21, February.
    7. Vittorio Daniele, 2011. "Natural Resources and the 'Quality' of Economic Development," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(4), pages 545-573.
    8. Osafo-Kwaako, Philip & Robinson, James A., 2013. "Political centralization in pre-colonial Africa," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 6-21.
    9. Jonas Hjort, 2010. "Pre-colonial culture, post-colonial economic success? The Tswana and the African economic miracle," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(3), pages 688-709, August.
    10. Justesen, Mogens K., 2012. "Democracy, dictatorship, and disease: Political regimes and HIV/AIDS," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 373-389.
    11. Javed, Omer, 2014. "Institutional quality, macroeconomic stabilization and economic growth: a case study of IMF programme countries," MPRA Paper 56370, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Hlavac, Marek, 2010. "Economic Development in Pre-Independence Botswana, 1820-1966: Historical Trends, Contributing and Countervailing Factors," MPRA Paper 26026, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2014. "On the Ethnic Origins of African Development Chiefs and Pre-colonial Political Centralization," NBER Working Papers 20513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Robinson, James A., 2009. "Botswana as a Role Model for Country Success," WIDER Working Paper Series 040, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    15. Leander Heldring & James A. Robinson, 2012. "Colonialism and Economic Development in Africa," NBER Working Papers 18566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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