Colonial Proprietary Elites and Institutions: The Persistence of De Facto Political Dominance
44 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2009
Date Written: July 31, 2009
One of the central questions in political economy is whether there is path dependence in the political dominance of historic elite families in post-colonial societies. This paper uses a unique combination of household surveys, archival data and family genealogies to empirically estimate whether the political dominance of historic elite groups in the colonial period predicts local political dominance, today. This question is analyzed in the context of rural Punjab, in Pakistan, where the colonial state established institutions that granted unequal political and economic power to proprietary families and excluded non-proprietary groups. The results suggest that political dominance established 150 years ago persists in spite of the abolition of the de jure political institutions of the colonial state. We find that path dependence is the result of continuity in local village institutions. Within the sample of elite families we find that the magnitude of current land ownership impacts political dominance.
Keywords: Institutions, Political Economy
JEL Classification: O12, O17
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation