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Chiefs: Economic Development and Elite Control of Civil Society in Sierra Leone

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Tristan Reed
  • James A. Robinson

Abstract

We study the effect of constraints on chiefs' power on economic outcomes, citizens' attitudes, and social capital. A paramount chief in Sierra Leone must come from a ruling family originally recognized by British colonial authorities. In chiefdoms with fewer ruling families, chiefs face less political competition, and development outcomes are significantly worse today. Variation in the security of property rights over land is a potential mechanism. Paradoxically, with fewer ruling families, the institutions of chiefs' authority are more highly respected, and measured social capital is higher. We argue that these results reflect the capture of civil society organizations by chiefs.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & Tristan Reed & James A. Robinson, 2014. "Chiefs: Economic Development and Elite Control of Civil Society in Sierra Leone," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(2), pages 319-368.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/674988
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), 2005. "Handbook of Economic Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1, July.
    2. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2004. "Why did the Elites Extend the Suffrage? Democracy and the Scope of Government, with an Application to Britain's "Age of Reform"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 707-765.
    3. 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.
    4. repec:ucp:bkecon:9780226470702 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Jerven, Morten, 2006. "Social Capital as a Determinant of Economic Growth in Africa," Ratio Working Papers 108, The Ratio Institute.
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