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Does land abundance explain African institutions?

  • Fenske, James

I show how abundant land and scarce labor shaped African institutions before colonial rule. I present a model in which exogenous land quality and endogenously evolving population determine the existence of land rights, slavery, and polygyny. I use cross-sectional data on pre-colonial African societies to demonstrate that, as in the model, the existence of land rights, slavery, and polygyny occurred where land was most suitable for agriculture, and where population density was greatest. These results are robust to alternative measures of institutions and historical population, and better fit the data than alternative theories of slavery.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 23222.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:23222
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  11. Nunn, Nathan, 2007. "The Long-Term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," MPRA Paper 4134, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Paul Collier & Jan Willem Gunning, 1999. "Why Has Africa Grown Slowly?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
  13. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
  14. J. Barkley Rosser, 2009. "Introduction," Chapters, in: Handbook of Research on Complexity, chapter 1 Edward Elgar.
  15. Graziella Bertocchi & Fabio Canova, 1996. "Did colonization matter for growth? An empirical exploration into the historical causes of Africa's underdevelopment," Economics Working Papers 202, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  16. North, Douglass C. & Thomas, Robert Paul, 1971. "The Rise and Fall of the Manorial System: A Theoretical Model," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(04), pages 777-803, December.
  17. Fenoaltea, Stefano, 1975. "The Rise and Fall of A Theoretical Model: The Manorial System," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(02), pages 386-409, June.
  18. Hanes, Christopher, 1996. "Turnover Cost and the Distribution of slave Labor in Anglo-America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(02), pages 307-329, June.
  19. Michele Tertilt, 2005. "Polygyny, Fertility, and Savings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1341-1370, December.
  20. Poirier, Dale J., 1980. "Partial observability in bivariate probit models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 209-217, February.
  21. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 903-37, October.
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