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The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Local Political Fragmentation in Africa

14 January 2014
Publication Type: Working Paper
JEL Code: N4, N47

I examine the possibility that the trans-Atlantic slave trades influenced the political institutions of villages and towns in precolonial Africa. Using anthropological data, I show that villages and towns of ethnic groups with higher slave exports were more politically fragmented during the precolonial era. I use instrumental variables to show that the relationship is at least partly causal. I argue this fragmentation is important for relative economic development because it still influences political institutions today. I support this argument by using more contemporary data to show that areas with higher precolonial political fragmentation have a higher incidence of bribery.

Series title: Working paper 406
1 January 2014
Journal: The Economic History Review
1 June 2016
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