ewout frankema on precolonial land institutions and settler acquisition in malaysia, sierra leone and zambia


Ewout Frankema, “The Colonial Roots of Land Inequality: Geography, Factor Endowments, or Institutions?”, The Economic History Review, 2009.


Land inequality is one of the crucial underpinnings of long-run persistent wealth and asset inequality. This article assesses the colonial roots of land inequality from a comparative perspective. The evolution of land inequality is analysed in a cross-colonial multivariate regression framework complemented by an in-depth comparative case study of three former British colonies: Malaysia, Sierra Leone, and Zambia. The main conclusion is that the literature tends to overemphasize the role of geography and to underestimate the role of pre-colonial institutions in shaping the colonial political economic context in which land is (re)distributed from natives to colonial settlers.

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