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The Impact of European Settlement within French West Africa: Did Pre-colonial Prosperous Areas Fall Behind?

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  • Elise Huillery

Abstract

Did colonisation change the distribution of prosperity within French-speaking West Africa? Using a new database on both pre-colonial and colonial contexts, this paper gives evidence that Europeans tended to settle in more prosperous pre-colonial areas and that the European settlement had a strong positive impact on current outcomes, even in an extractive colonial context, resulting in a positive relationship between pre- and post-colonial performances. I argue that the African hostility towards colonial power to colonisation provides a random variation in European settlement since it damaged the profitability of colonial activities and dissuaded Europeans from settling, but does not have a direct effect on current outcomes. Rich and hostile areas received less European settlers than they would have received had they not been so hostile, resulting in lower current performances partly due to lower colonial investments. Despite the absence of a 'reversal of fortune' within former French West Africa, some of the most prosperous pre-colonial areas lost their advantage because of their hostility: other areas caught up and became the new leaders in the region. Copyright 2011 The author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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  • Elise Huillery, 2011. "The Impact of European Settlement within French West Africa: Did Pre-colonial Prosperous Areas Fall Behind?," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 20(2), pages 263-311, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:20:y:2011:i:2:p:263-311
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    Cited by:

    1. James Fenske, 2014. "Ecology, Trade, And States In Pre-Colonial Africa," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 612-640, June.
    2. Nunn, Nathan, 2014. "Historical Development," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 347-402 Elsevier.
    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. Cristina Terra & Tania El Kallab, 2014. "French Colonial Trade Patterns: European Settlement," THEMA Working Papers 2014-27, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    5. Fenske, James, 2015. "African polygamy: Past and present," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 58-73.
    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. 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.
    8. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay & Elliott Green, 2016. "Precolonial Political Centralization and Contemporary Development in Uganda," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(3), pages 471-508.
    9. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis, 2013. "Esclavagisme et colonisation : Quelles conséquences contemporaines en Afrique ? - Résumé critique des travaux de l'économiste Nathan Nunn
      [Slavery and colonization: What contemporary consequences i
      ," MPRA Paper 43732, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Jean Cartier-Bresson, 2013. "Le pouvoir du positivisme et ses limites : microéconométrie et macroéconométrie actuelles du développement," Working Papers hal-00847005, HAL.
    11. Kostadis J. Papaioannou & Michiel de Haas, 2015. "Climate shocks, cash crops and resilience: Evidence from colonial tropical Africa," Working Papers 0076, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    12. Fenske, James, 2010. "Institutions in African history and development: A review essay," MPRA Paper 23120, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Broich, Tobias & Szirmai, Adam & Thomsson, Kaj, 2015. "Precolonial centralisation, foreign aid and modern state capacity in Africa," MERIT Working Papers 025, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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