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Does land abundance explain African institutions?

Fenske, James (2012): Does land abundance explain African institutions?

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Abstract

The land abundance view of African history uses sparse population to explain pre-colonial land tenure and slavery. I document the geographic forcing variables that predict land rights, slavery, and population density in a cross section of global societies. I discuss whether these correlations support theories of land rights and slavery, including the land abundance view. I show that pre-colonial institutions predict institutional outcomes in Africa in the present, including land transactions, polygamy, and public goods. Pre-colonial institutions have effects above those of geography. The colonial reversal of fortune did not erase their influence.

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