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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)

Suggested Citation

  • Elise Huillery, 2009. "History Matters: The Long-Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 176-215, April.
  • 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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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • N47 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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