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Land abundance and economic institutions: Egba land and slavery, 1830-1914

Fenske, James (2010): Land abundance and economic institutions: Egba land and slavery, 1830-1914.

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Abstract

The ``land abundance'' view of African history uses sparse population to explain economic institutions. I provide supporting evidence from the Egba of Nigeria. I use early colonial court records to show that Egba institutions fit the theory's predictions. Before 1914, the Egba had poorly defined land rights, practiced extensive agriculture, relied on dependant and forced labor, and used labor to secure loans. There are two major exceptions. First, the Egba sold some land. Second, land disputes existed. These are explained by land scarcity when the Egba initially arrived at Abeokuta and by heterogeneity in the quality of land.

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