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The authors investigate jointly the importance of contemporary country-level institutional structures and local ethnic-specific pre-colonial institutions in shaping comparative regional development in Africa. They utilize information on the spatial distribution of African ethnicities before colonization and regional variation in contemporary economic performance, as proxied by satellite light density at night. They exploit the fact that political boundaries across the African landscape partitioned ethnic groups in different countries subjecting identical cultures to different country-level institutions. The regression discontinuity estimates reveal that differences in countrywide institutional arrangements across the border do not explain differences in economic performance within ethnic groups.
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