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Daron Acemoglu on African Countries - Dictionary of Arguments

Acemoglu I 53
African countries/Acemoglu/Robinson: (...) the orientation of continents cannot provide an explanation for today’s world inequality. Though the Sahara Desert did present a significant barrier to the movement of goods and ideas from the north to sub-Saharan Africa, this was not insurmountable. The Portuguese, and then other Europeans, sailed around the coast and eliminated differences in knowledge at a time when gaps in incomes were very small compared with what they are today. Since then, Africa has not caught up with Europe; on the contrary, there is now a much larger income gap between most African and European countries. >Inequalities/Diamond
, >Inequalities/Acemoglu.
Acemoglu I 58
Historically, sub-Saharan Africa was poorer than most other parts of the world, and its ancient civilizations did not develop the wheel, writing (with the exception of Ethiopia and Somalia), or the plow. Though these technologies were not widely used until the advent of formal European colonization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, African societies knew about them much earlier. Europeans began sailing around the west coast in the late fifteenth century, and Asians were continually sailing to East Africa from much earlier times.
In West Africa there was rapid economic development based on the export of palm oil and ground nuts; throughout southern Africa, Africans developed exports to the rapidly expanding industrial and mining areas of the Rand in South Africa. Yet these promising economic experiments were obliterated not by African culture or the inability of ordinary Africans to act in their own self-interest, but first by European colonialism and then by postindependence African governments.
Colonialism: The real reason that the Kongolese did not adopt superior technology was because they lacked any incentives to do so. They faced a high risk of all their output being expropriated and taxed by the all-powerful king, whether or not he had converted to Catholicism.

Acemoglu I 463
Literature: a seminal political economy interpretation of African underdevelopment was developed by Bates (1981(1), 1983(2), 1989(3)), whose work heavily influenced ours. Seminal studies by Dalton (1965)(4) and Killick (1978)(5) emphasize the role of politics in African development and particularly how the fear of losing political power influences economic policy.


1.Bates, Robert H. (1981). Markets and States in Tropical Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press.
2. - (1983). Essays in the Political Economy of Rural Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press.
3. - (1989). Beyond the Miracle of the Market. New York: Cambridge University Press.
4.Dalton, George H. (1965). “History, Politics and Economic Development in Liberia.” Journal of Economic History 25: 569–91.
5. Killick, Tony (1978). Development Economics in Action. London: Heinemann.

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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Acemoglu II
James A. Acemoglu
James A. Robinson
Economic origins of dictatorship and democracy Cambridge 2006

Acemoglu I
James A. Acemoglu
James A. Robinson
Why nations fail. The origins of power, prosperity, and poverty New York 2012


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