Where Local Kings Rule: Long-Term Impacts of Precolonial Institutions and Geography on Access to Public Infrastructure Services in Nigeria

Archibong, Belinda

Though previous works have discussed the benefits of precolonial ethnic state centralization for development in Africa, the findings, of a positive relationship between centralization and development and the mechanisms provided, of local accountability of ethnic state leaders, do not explain the heterogeneity in outcomes, reflected in the unequal distribution of access to public services among formerly centralized states today. Here, I find that centralization has had a negative effect on access to federally administrated, high state control goods when cooperation failed between ethnic state and autocratic federal government leaders in the kind of cooperative federalist regimes that defined much of colonial and postcolonial Africa. I focus on the case of Nigeria, and specifically, I find a significant negative effect of centralization on access to high federal state control goods for centralized states whose leaders failed to cooperate with the autocratic military regime, and whose jurisdictions were subsequently subject to a punishment regime, typified by underinvestment in public services, with lasting impacts till today. I also posit that the long-term effects of this punishment can be seen in the relatively lower reported trust in institutions of federal authority over traditional institutions today from respondents from these previously punished, centralized precolonial states. The results are robust to a number of controls and instrumenting for centralization with an ecological diversity index.

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International and Public Affairs
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January 23, 2015