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Decentralized Despotism? Indirect Colonial Rule Undermines Contemporary Democratic Attitudes

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  • Lechler, Marie
  • McNamee, Lachlan
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    This paper identifies indirect and direct colonial rule as causal factors in shaping support for democracy by exploiting a within-country natural experiment in Namibia. Throughout the colonial era, northern Namibia was indirectly ruled through a system of appointed indigenous traditional elites whereas colonial authorities directly ruled southern Namibia. This variation originally stems from where the progressive extension of direct German control was stopped after a rinderpest epidemic in the 1890s, and thus constitutes plausibly exogenous within-country variation in the form of colonial rule. Using this spatial discontinuity, we find that individuals in indirectly ruled areas are less likely to support democracy and turnout at elections. We explore potential mechanisms and find suggestive evidence that the greater influence of traditional leaders in indirectly ruled areas has socialized individuals to accept non-electoral bases of political authority.

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    File URL: https://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/36388/1/Decentralized.pdf
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    Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 36388.

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    Date of creation: 08 Mar 2017
    Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:36388
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    1. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2009. "Democratic Capital: The Nexus of Political and Economic Change," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 88-126, July.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
    3. Lange, Matthew K., 2004. "British Colonial Legacies and Political Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 905-922, June.
    4. Melissa Dell, 2010. "The Persistent Effects of Peru's Mining Mita," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(6), pages 1863-1903, November.
    5. Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "Direct versus Indirect Colonial Rule in India: Long-Term Consequences," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 693-713, November.
    6. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economies," ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, vol. 0(Fall 2002), pages 41-110, August.
    7. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    8. Andrew Gelman & Guido Imbens, 2014. "Why High-order Polynomials Should not be Used in Regression Discontinuity Designs," NBER Working Papers 20405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. 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.
    10. repec:cup:apsrev:v:106:y:2012:i:03:p:471-494_00 is not listed on IDEAS
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