Above the median there is a greater concentration of societies with two or

Above the median there is a greater concentration of

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no levels jurisdiction above the local, or one level. Above the median, there is a greater concentration of societies with two or three levels of jurisdiction. Both above and below
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ECOLOGY, TRADE AND STATES IN PRE-COLONIAL AFRICA 9 F IGURE 3. State centralization when ecological diversity is above and be- low the median The dark bars are for ecological diversity above the median, the light bars for ecological diversity below it. Percentage is on the y axis and levels of jurisdiction on the x axis. the median, it is quite uncommon for societies to have four such levels. The general pat- tern is clear; as ecological variation rises, the distribution of state centralization skews to the right. To test econometrically whether there the gains from trade due to ecological diversity predict the existence of centralized states in pre-colonial Africa, I estimate the following using an ordered probit: (2) State centralization i = α + β Ecological diversity i + X 0 i γ + i . In (2), state centralization is the number of levels of jurisdiction recorded by the Ethno- graphic Atlas . Ecological diversity is the index defined above. The matrix X i includes the other controls reported listed in section 2, as well as (in some specifications) dummy variables for the thirteen ethnographic regions recorded in the sample. 7 Standard er- rors are clustered by region. Table 4 presents the resulting estimates of β . I report the full set of coefficient es- timates in Table 19 in the appendix, omitting them in the text for space. In column 1, only the measure of ecological diversity is included. Ecological diversity has a significant 7 These are: African Hunters, South African Bantu, Central Bantu, Northeast Bantu, Equatorial Bantu, Guinea Coast, Western Sudan, Nigerian Plateau, Eastern Sudan, Upper Nile, Ethiopia/Horn, Moslem Su- dan, and Indian Ocean.
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10 JAMES FENSKE T ABLE 4. Main results [Table 4 here] and positive correlation with state centralization. This is robust to the inclusion of ad- ditional controls in column 2, and the coefficient does not fall by much. While regional dummies do knock away some of the magnitude of the coefficient estimate, it remains significant at the 10% level. Surprisingly, few of the additional controls are statistically significant. The exceptions are elevation (positive in column 3), date of observation (negative in both columns), no major crop (negative in column 2), roots and tubers (positive in columns 2 and 3), major river (positive in columns 2 and 3), and rugged- ness (positive in both columns). The positive effect of elevation is likely capturing ben- efits associated with mountainous regions, such as defensibility, less susceptibility to disease, and soil fertility. The negative effect of the date of observation likely suggests that colonial-era anthropologists chose to first study the least remote and most central- ized African societies – the low hanging academic fruit. The negative effect of no major crop suggests that it is difficult to form a state without an agrarian base of any sort. The positive effect of roots and tubers is a surprise, and is likely proxying for unobservable features of forest-zone Bantu societies that better enabled them to create states. Major
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  • Spring '17
  • JAMES FENSKE

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