Similarly this Ricardian view of the origins of pre colonial African states

Similarly this ricardian view of the origins of pre

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Similarly, this Ricardian view of the origins of pre-colonial African states contrasts with other, though not necessarily rival, theories of African political centralization. Again,
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4 JAMES FENSKE it is not the purpose of this paper to test between these hypotheses unless they are al- ternative explanations of the relationship between ecological diversity and states. First, the “land-abundance” view (Austin, 2008a; Herbst, 2000) of Africa argues that the rel- ative absence of large states in pre-colonial Africa was the result of sparse population. Unable to tax land, which had little value, African states had to rely on trade taxes for revenue. This is to be understood in contrast with the view of Tilly and Ardant (1975), who argue that it was the need to secure and defend territory that gave rise to modern nation states in Europe. I show in this paper that, even controlling for population den- sity, gains from trade allowed states to exist in Africa. Second, contributions by Nunn (2008) and Robinson (2002) have built on older views, such as those of Rodney (1972), and argued that the slave trade and colonial rule undermined institutional development in Africa, including state centralization. I show that the relationship between states and ecology is robust to measures of access to the transatlantic slave trade. In the remainder of this paper, I proceed as follows. In section 2, I describe my sources of data, how I measure state centralization, and how I compute ecological diversity for each society. In section 3, I outline the principal econometric specification and the baseline results. In section 4, I demonstrate the robustness of these results to endo- geneity, unobserved heterogeneity, influential observations, and alternative measures of trade and states. In section 5, I give evidence that five alternative stories – area ne- cessitates centralization, states migrate to capture gains from trade, states emerge to protect “islands” of land quality in otherwise barren regions, ecological diversity prox- ies for population density, and ecological diversity produces ethnic diversity – do not explain the results. In section 6, I present suggestive evidence that centralized states emerged from trade because it supported class differentiation, and that no one type of trade mattered most. In section 7, I conclude. 2. D ATA In order to test the Ricardian theory of African states empirically, I need data on three things – African states, the gains from trade, and other variables whose omission could potentially bias the results. In this section I describe my sources of for each. To measure African states, I take data from Murdock’s (1967) Ethnographic Atlas . This was originally published in 29 issues of Ethnology between 1962 and 1980. It contains data on 1267 societies from around the world.
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  • Spring '17
  • JAMES FENSKE

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