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New technology, better economy? The heterogeneous impact of colonial railroads in Nigeria

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  • Okoye, Dozie
  • Pongou, Roland
  • Yokossi, Tite

Abstract

This article documents average and heterogeneous impacts of colonial railways in Nigeria. Railways increased economic development in the short-term, in particular in areas with low pre-railway access to ports of export, including most of the North of the country. These effects persist today, despite railways no longer functioning. Conversely, railways had neither short- nor long-term effects in the South, where pre-railway access to ports of export was large, and where railways were adopted at very low rates because they were less affordable than roads and rivers. We use straight line instruments, placebo lines, and other robustness checks to rule out several alternative hypotheses for the uncovered heterogeneity. In particular, our findings are not driven by pre-railway levels of economic development, the presence of major roads, missionary activity, the timing of railway construction, differential spillovers, or the crude oil production.

Suggested Citation

  • Okoye, Dozie & Pongou, Roland & Yokossi, Tite, 2019. "New technology, better economy? The heterogeneous impact of colonial railroads in Nigeria," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 320-354.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:140:y:2019:i:c:p:320-354
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2019.06.009
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    Cited by:

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    2. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata & Wei, Jinlin, 2021. "Railways and cities in India," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1349, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    3. Canning, David & Mabeu, Marie Christelle & Pongou, Roland, 2020. "Colonial origins and fertility: can the market overcome history?," MPRA Paper 112496, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Marie Christelle Mabeu & Roland Pongou, 2021. "The Interplay Between Colonial History and Postcolonial Institutions: Evidence from Cameroon," Working Papers 2111E Classification-D02,, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
    5. Okoye, Dozie, 2021. "Things fall apart? Missions, institutions, and interpersonal trust," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 148(C).
    6. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata & Wei, Jinlin, 2021. "Railways and cities in India," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1349, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    7. He, Guojun & Xie, Yang & Zhang, Bing, 2020. "Expressways, GDP, and the environment: The case of China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Impact heterogeneity; Colonial investments; Railway; Africa; Long-run effects; Development; Nigeria;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania

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