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History Matters: The Long-Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa

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  • Elise Huillery

Abstract

To what extent do colonial public investments continue to influence current regional inequalities in French-speaking West Africa? Using a new database and the spatial discontinuities of colonial investment policy, this paper gives evidence that early colonial investments had large and persistent effects on current outcomes. The nature of investments also matters. Current educational outcomes have been more specifically determined by colonial investments in education rather than health and infrastructures, and vice versa. I show that a major channel for this historical dependency is a strong persistence of investments; regions that got more at the early colonial times continued to get more. (JEL H41, H54, N37, N47, 016)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 176-215

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:2:p:176-215

Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.2.176
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  1. Dominique Goux & Eric Maurin, 2006. "Close Neighbours Matter: Neighbourhood Effects on Early Performance at School," CEE Discussion Papers, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE 0068, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  2. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  3. Bertocchi, Graziella & Canova, Fabio, 2002. "Did colonization matter for growth?: An empirical exploration into the historical causes of Africa's underdevelopment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 46(10), pages 1851-1871, December.
  4. Nicola Gennaioli & Ilia Rainer, 2007. "The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 185-234, September.
  5. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
  6. Elise Huillery, 2010. "The Impact of European Settlement within French West Africa," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/c8dmi8nm4pd, Sciences Po.
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