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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 use colonial court records to show that the Egba of Nigeria fit this theory's predictions. Before 1914, the Egba had poorly defined land rights, relied on dependant and forced labor, and used labor to secure loans. These institutions responded to the changing availability of land, labor and capital. An initial period of land scarcity altered land ownership. A market existed for the most valuable land. Slaves were used by those with better opportunities to acquire them, and credit expanded after the introduction of tree crops.

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