NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Philip Osafo-Kwaako

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Working Papers and Chapters

May 2014Indirect Rule and State Weakness in Africa: Sierra Leone in Comparative Perspective
with Daron Acemoglu, Isaías N. Chaves, James A. Robinson
in African Successes: Sustainable Growth, Sebastian Edwards, Simon Johnson, and David N. Weil, editors
Indirect Rule and State Weakness in Africa: Sierra Leone in Comparative Perspective
with Daron Acemoglu, Isaías N. Chaves, James A. Robinson: w20092
A fundamental problem for economic development is that most poor countries have ‘weak state’ which are incapable or unwilling to provide basic public goods such as law enforcement, order, education and infrastructure. In Africa this is often attributed to the persistence of ‘indirect rule’ from the colonial period. In this paper we discuss the ways in which a state constructed on the basis of indirect rule is weak and the mechanisms via which this has persisted since independence in Sierra Leone. We also present a hypothesis as to why the extent to which indirect rule has persisted varies greatly within Africa, linking it to the presence or the absence of large centralized pre-colonial polities within modern countries. Countries which had such a polity, such as Ghana and Uganda, tended to ...
February 2013Political Centralization in Pre-Colonial Africa
with James A. Robinson: w18770
In this paper we investigate the empirical correlates of political centralization using data from the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample. We specifically investigate the explanatory power of the standard models of Eurasian state formation which emphasize the importance of high population density, inter-state warfare and trade as factors leading to political centralization. We find that while in the whole world sample these factors are indeed positively correlated with political centralization, this is not so in the African sub-sample. Indeed, none of the variables are statistically related to political centralization. We also provide evidence that political centralization, where it took place, was indeed associated with better public goods and development outcomes. We conclude that the evidenc...

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