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Colonial Legacies: Shaping African Cities

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  • Neeraj Baruah
  • J. Vernon Henderson
  • Cong Peng

Abstract

Differential institutions imposed during colonial rule continue to affect the spatial structure and urban interactions in African cities. Based on a sample of 318 cities across 28 countries using satellite data on built cover over time, Anglophone origin cities sprawl compared to Francophone ones. Anglophone cities have less intense land use and more irregular layout in the older colonial portions of cities, and more leapfrog development at the extensive margin. Results are impervious to a border experiment, many robustness tests, measures of sprawl, and sub-samples. Why would colonial origins matter? The British operated under indirect rule and a dual mandate within cities, allowing colonial and native sections to develop without an overall plan and coordination. In contrast, integrated city planning and land allocation mechanisms were a feature of French colonial rule, which was inclined to direct rule. The results also have public policy relevance. From the Demographic and Health Survey, similar households which are located in areas of the city with more leapfrog development have poorer connections to piped water, electricity, and landlines, presumably because of higher costs of providing infrastructure with urban sprawl.

Suggested Citation

  • Neeraj Baruah & J. Vernon Henderson & Cong Peng, 2017. "Colonial Legacies: Shaping African Cities," SERC Discussion Papers 0226, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:sercdp:0226
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    colonialism; persistence; Africa; sprawl; urban form; urban planning; leapfrog;

    JEL classification:

    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • N97 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • R5 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis

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