Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



International Relations

First Advisor

Nicholas Smith

Second Advisor

Jean Krasno


Property Rights, Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Economics, Developing World


African states in the post-colonial era have undergone notably different rates of economic growth and development. I argue that creating a strong legal framework to prevent state over-interference in private property is one of the most important public policy initiatives African states that have seen high levels of growth have taken. I’ve come to this conclusion by studying and reviewing relevant economic and historical literature about the relationship between economic growth and strong property rights regimes and property rights in Africa since the end of colonialism. I have centered my study around Zimbabwe and Botswana because those states have implemented and articulated opposing positions regarding property rights, which make them valuable states to study in great detail. From this analysis, I’ve concluded that the Botswana government has historically exhibited a distinct legal policy position regarding private ownership of property. This position has created a series of outcomes which has been largely responsible for the high level of economic prosperity Botswana has experienced since its independence in nineteen sixty-six. The Zimbabwean government has articulated a distinctly different position on the value of securing private property, and this has led it to a series of public policy initiatives regarding private property very different than the private property regime established in Botswana. This analysis helps establish a future framework useful for governments in establishing economies looking to develop, and a historical way of judging the utility of large scale redistributions of private property. I look for this analysis to help establish a more useful form of analysis and rhetoric.



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