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Pre-Colonial Institutions, Post-Colonial States, and Economic Development in Tropical Africa

Pierre Englebert
Political Research Quarterly
Vol. 53, No. 1 (Mar., 2000), pp. 7-36
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of the University of Utah
DOI: 10.2307/449244
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/449244
Page Count: 30
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Pre-Colonial Institutions, Post-Colonial States, and Economic Development in Tropical Africa
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Abstract

It is well known that Africa's development lags behind that of other regions. Lesser known is the substantial variance in development fortunes within Africa, with "miracle" economies compensating for the region's development disasters. Prevailing theories of Africa's average performance fail to account for intra-African disparities. Using empirical evidence from cross-sectional data, this study offers a new explanation for success and failure in African development, which builds upon the insights of neo-patrimonial theory. It argues that variations in the extent to which post-colonial state institutions clash with pre-existing ones largely account for what differentiates state capacity and economic growth across the region. The greater the incongruence between pre- and post-colonial institutions, the greater the relative power payoffs to domestic elites of adopting neo-patrimonial policies over developmental ones. The article challenges thereby the social capital and ethnic homogeneity theories of African under-development, and offers substantial qualifications to the "imported state" hypothesis.

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