Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

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
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Dirk Bezemer: Faculty of Economics, Groeningen University, Postal: P.O. Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, , The Netherlands
Jutta Bolt: Faculty of Economics, Groeningen University, Postal: P.O. Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, , The Netherlands
Robert Lenzink: Faculty of Economics, Groeningen University, Postal: P.O. Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, , The Netherlands

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

JEL-codes: N17; N27; N37; N47; N57

46 pages, December 18, 2012

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