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Trees, Tenure and Conflict: Rubber in Colonial Benin

  • James Fenske

Tree crops have changed land tenure in Africa. Farmers 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. Farmers initially obtained land by traditional methods. Mature farmswere assets that could be sold, let out, and used to raise credit. Disputes over rubber involved smallholders, communities of rival users, would-be migrant farmers, commercial plantations, and the colonial state, which feared rubber would make land unavailable for food crops.

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File URL: http://www.wider.unu.edu/sites/default/files/wp2011-29.pdf
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Paper provided by World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) in its series Working Paper Series with number UNU-WIDER Working Paper WP2011/29.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2011-29
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  1. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "History Institutions and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," Working Papers id:2811, eSocialSciences.
  2. repec:ags:afjare:141665 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. 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.
  4. James Fenske, 2012. "The Battle for Rubber in Benin," Economics Series Working Papers Number 107, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
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  9. 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.
  10. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2008. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 981-1022, December.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson, 2005. "Unbundling Institutions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 949-995, October.
  14. Ewout Frankema & Marlous van Waijenburg, 2011. "Structural Impediments to African Growth? New Evidence from Real Wages in British Africa, 1880-1965," Working Papers 0024, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  15. James Fenske, 2012. ""Rubber will not keep in this country": Failed Development in Benin, 1897-1921," Economics Series Working Papers Number 108, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  16. Ewout Frankema & Marlous van Waijenburg, 2011. "African Real Wages in Asian Perspective, 1880-1940," Working Papers 0002, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  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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