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Ecology, trade and states in pre-colonial Africa

  • James Fenske

State capacity matters for growth. I test Bates’ explanation of pre-colonial African states. He argues that trade across ecological boundaries promoted states. I find that African societies in ecologically diverse environments had more centralized states. This is robust to reverse causation, omitted heterogeneity, and alternative interpretations of the link between diversity and states. Ecological diversity also predicts states outside of Africa. I test mechanisms connecting trade to states, and find that trade supported class stratification between rulers and ruled. I underscore the importance of ethnic institutions and inform our knowledge of the effects of geography and trade on institutions.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2012-18.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2012-18
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