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African Economic History Network African Economic History Working Paper, African Economic History Network

No 6/2012:
Slavery, Statehood and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Dirk Bezemer, Jutta Bolt () and Robert Lenzink

Abstract: This paper addresses the long-term impact of Sub-Saharan Africa’s indigenous systems of slavery on its political and economic development, based on an analytical survey of the literature and data collected from anthropological records. We develop a theory to account for this based on the framework proposed by North et al. (2009), where indigenous slavery may have impeded the transition from a ‘limited access state’ centred around personal relations to an ‘open access state’ based on impersonal rule of law and widely shared access to public and private organisations. In a quantitative analysis we find that indigenous slavery is robustly and negatively associated with the quality of governance and with current income levels.

Keywords: Africa; Slavery; States; colonialism; economic development; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: N17; N27; N37; N47; N57; (follow links to similar papers)

46 pages, December 18, 2012

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