Econometrica: Jan 2013, Volume 81, Issue 1

Pre‐Colonial Ethnic Institutions and Contemporary African Development

https://doi.org/10.3982/ECTA9613
p. 113-152

Stelios Michalopoulos, Elias Papaioannou

We investigate the role of deeply rooted pre‐colonial ethnic institutions in shaping comparative regional development within African countries. We combine information on the spatial distribution of ethnicities before colonization with regional variation in contemporary economic performance, as proxied by satellite images of light density at night. We document a strong association between pre‐colonial ethnic political centralization and regional development. This pattern is not driven by differences in local geographic features or by other observable ethnic‐specific cultural and economic variables. The strong positive association between pre‐colonial political complexity and contemporary development also holds within pairs of adjacent ethnic homelands with different legacies of pre‐colonial political institutions.

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Supplement to "Pre-Colonial Ethnic Institutions and Contemporary African Development"

The Supplementary Appendix reports (i) descriptive statistics, (ii) further cross-validation tests of the luminosity data, (iii) numerous sensitivity checks and (iv) the detailed Data Appendix

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Supplement to "Pre-Colonial Ethnic Institutions and Contemporary African Development"

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