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The Black Man's Burden: The Cost of Colonization of French West Africa

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  • Huillery, Elise

Abstract

Was colonization costly for France? Did French taxpayers contribute to colonies’ development? This article reveals that French West Africa's colonization took only 0.29 percent of French annual expenditures, including 0.24 percent for military and central administration and 0.05 percent for French West Africa's development. For West Africans, the contribution from French taxpayers was almost negligible: mainland France provided about 2 percent of French West Africa's revenue. In fact, colonization was a considerable burden for African taxpayers since French civil servants’ salaries absorbed a disproportionate share of local expenditures.

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  • Huillery, Elise, 2014. "The Black Man's Burden: The Cost of Colonization of French West Africa," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 1-38, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:74:y:2014:i:01:p:1-38_00
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    1. 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.
    2. James Foreman-Peck, 1989. "Foreign investment and imperial exploitation: balance of payments reconstruction for nineteenth-century Britain and India," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 42(3), pages 354-374, August.
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    2. Baten, Jörg & Cappelli, Gabriele, 2016. "The Evolution of Human Capital in Africa, 1730 -1970: A Colonial Legacy?," CEPR Discussion Papers 11273, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis & Asongu, Simplice & Cinyabuguma, Matthias, 2016. "The White Man’s Burden: On the Effect of African Resistance to European Domination," MPRA Paper 74228, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2017. "States and economic growth: Capacity and constraints," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 1-20.
    5. Guido Alfani & Federico Tadei, 2017. "Income Inequality in Colonial Africa: Building Social Tables for Pre-Independence Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, and Senegal," Working Papers 594, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    6. Cornelius Christian & James Fenske, 2015. "Economic shocks and unrest in French West Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-01, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    7. Koddenbrock, Kai & Kvangraven, Ingrid Harvold & Sylla, Ndongo Samba, 2020. "Beyond Financialisation: The Need for a Longue Durée Understanding of Finance in Imperialism," OSF Preprints pjt7x, Center for Open Science.
    8. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis & Asongu, Simplice, 2018. "The Long-Term Effects of African Resistance to European Domination: Institutional Mechanism," MPRA Paper 85237, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Remi Jedwab & Alexander Moradi, 2013. "Transportation Technology and Economic Change: The Impact of Colonial Railroads on City Growth in Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2013-17, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
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