Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Lund Papers in Economic History,
Lund University, Department of Economic History

No 125: Land Concentration, Institutional Control and African Agency: Growth and stagnation of European tobacco farming in Shire Highlands, c 1900 – 1940

Erik Green ()
Additional contact information
Erik Green: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Box 7083, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: The role of factor endowments and institutions as drivers of socio-economic change and development is a central theme in economic and agrarian history. The common approach is to identify either factor endowments or institutions as triggers of change. Meanwhile, institutions and factor endowments are interdependent and the puzzle is to identify the causality within the structure of interdependence. This paper is an attempt to relate factor endowments with institutions from a specific theoretical angle, following Griffin et al proposed hypothesis of the connections between land concentration and labour control. The paper discusses to what extent land concentration in the southern province of colonial Malawi during the early colonial period created specific institutions of labour control that determined agricultural growth on European controlled tobacco farms. The paper concludes that the European farmers’ control of labour was severely restricted due to African farmers’ (tenants as well as peasants) engagement in cash crop production. The labour contracts were therefore to a large extent designed to meet the demands of the Africans. Land concentration had little impact on European farmers’ capacity to control labour. On the contrary, African agency played a significant role in shaping the institutional framework in which the European farmers operated in.

Keywords: Africa; Malawi; settler; peasant; land concentration; factor endowments; institutions

JEL-codes: N17; N37; N57; N97

36 pages, December 3, 2012

Full text files

125.pdf PDF-file 

Download statistics

Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Tobias Karlsson ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson ().

This page generated on 2018-01-23 23:35:17.