State History and Contemporary Conflict: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

52 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2015

Date Written: October 25, 2015


I examine empirically the role of historical political centralization on the likelihood of modern civil conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa. I combine a wide variety of historical sources to construct an original measure of long-run exposure to statehood at the sub-national level. I then exploit within-country variation in this new measure along with georeferenced conflict data to document a robust negative statistical relationship between local long-run exposure to state institutions and contemporary conflict. From a variety of identification strategies I provide evidence suggesting that the relationship is causal. I argue that regions with long experience with statehood are better equipped with mechanisms to establish and preserve order. Consistently with this hypothesis, I provide evidence that those regions are less prone to experience conflict when hit by a negative economic shock. I finally exploit contemporary individual-level survey data for 18 Sub-Saharan countries to show that within-country long history of statehood is linked to people’s positive attitudes toward local state institutions and traditional leaders.

Keywords: Conflict, Institutions, Statehood, Pre-colonial Development, Sub-Saharan Africa

JEL Classification: D74, N47, O10, O17, Z10

Suggested Citation

Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio, State History and Contemporary Conflict: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa (October 25, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Emilio Depetris-Chauvin (Contact Author)

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile ( email )

Vicuna Mackenna 4860
Santiago, 99999

HOME PAGE: http://

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics