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Poverty Trap in a Tributary Mode of Production: The Peasant Economy of Ethiopia

Listed author(s):
  • Berhanu Abegaz


    (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary)

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    The paradox of EthiopiaÕs agrarian economy is that, despite underwriting a world civilization, the transition to an industrial economy has eluded it. Using a model of AfroAsiatic tributarism, we attribute this outcome to endemic extractive contests between a predominantly landed peasantry and a titled, prebendary overlord class. The latterÕs strategy of political accumulation inevitably engendered immiserization of overlord and peasant alike by privileging diversion over production. The surplus was then dissipated on unproductive consumption, national defence, and internecine strife. Lacking a strong state to mitigate predation and political instability, the Ethiopian peasant rationally ÔchoseÕ to be efficiently, albeit self-sufficiently, poor.

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    Paper provided by Department of Economics, College of William and Mary in its series Working Papers with number 06.

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    Length: 39 pages
    Date of creation: 15 Oct 2004
    Handle: RePEc:cwm:wpaper:6
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