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Trees, tenure and conflict: Rubber in colonial Benin

  • Fenske, James

Tree crops have changed land tenure in Africa. Planters have acquired more permanent, alienable rights, but have also faced disputes with competing claimants and the state. I show that the introduction of Para rubber had similar effects in the Benin region of colonial Nigeria. Planters initially obtained land by traditional methods. Mature plantations were assets that could be sold, let out, and used to raise credit. Disputes over rubber involved smallholders, communities of rival users, would-be migrant planters, commercial plantations, and the colonial state, which feared rubber would make land unavailable for food crops.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 26244.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:26244
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  1. Ewout Frankema & Marlous van Waijenburg, 2011. "African Real Wages in Asian Perspective, 1880-1940," Working Papers 0002, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  2. Fenske, James, 2013. "“Rubber will not keep in this country”: Failed development in Benin, 1897–1921," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 316-333.
  3. repec:ags:afjare:141665 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2005. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Working Papers 929, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  5. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
  6. Libecap, Gary D., 2007. "The Assignment of Property Rights on the Western Frontier: Lessons for Contemporary Environmental and Resource Policy," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(02), pages 257-291, June.
  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. Sue Bowden & Blessing Chiripanhura & Paul Mosley, 2008. "Measuring and explaining poverty in six African countries: A long-period approach," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(8), pages 1049-1079.
  9. James Fenske, 2012. "The Battle for Rubber in Benin," Economics Series Working Papers Number 107, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  10. 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.
  11. Frankema, Ewout & Waijenburg, Marlous Van, 2012. "Structural Impediments to African Growth? New Evidence from Real Wages in British Africa, 1880–1965," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(04), pages 895-926, December.
  12. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson, 2005. "Unbundling Institutions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 949-995, October.
  13. Andre, Catherine & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 1998. "Land relations under unbearable stress: Rwanda caught in the Malthusian trap," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 1-47, January.
  14. N. Lesca, 2010. "Introduction," Post-Print halshs-00640602, HAL.
  15. Erica Field, 2007. "Entitled to Work: Urban Property Rights and Labor Supply in Peru," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1561-1602.
  16. Quisumbing, Agnes R, et al, 2001. "Women's Land Rights in the Transition to Individualized Ownership: Implications for Tree-Resource Management in Western Ghana," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(1), pages 157-81, October.
  17. Hans-Ulrich Derlien & B. Guy Peters, 2008. "Introduction," Chapters, in: The State at Work, Volume 2, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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