Reader Comment on Chiefs in Sierra Leone  
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson

Here is an interesting comment on our last post by Peter Richens:

Very interesting post on chiefs in Sierra Leone. 

The main problem with traditional African systems of land tenure (as influenced but not created by colonialism) as I see it, is not insecurity per se, but that security is expensive in terms of the required investments in social capital. This is supported by quite a bit of anthropological and historical literature, I’m thinking particularly of Sara Berry who I see you cite. If this is the case, you would expect to see more investment in social capital (by the villagers rather than the chiefs) where traditional systems of land tenure are stronger, ie. where chiefs have more discretionary power. This, I believe, is also consistent with your “puzzling” results.

Peter Richens also uses a reference to his LSE dissertation.

Article originally appeared on Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (
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