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Pre-Colonial Political Centralization and Contemporary Development in Uganda

  • Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay and Elliott Green

The importance of pre-colonial history on contemporary African development has become an important field of study within development economics in recent years. In particular (Gennaioli & Rainer, 2007) suggest that pre-colonial political centralization has had an impact on contemporary levels of development within Africa at the country level. We test the (Gennaioli & Rainer, 2007) hypothesis at the sub-national level for the first time with evidence from Uganda. Using a variety of datasets we obtain results which are striking in two ways. First, we confirm the (Gennaioli & Rainer, 2007) hypothesis that pre-colonial centralization is highly correlated with modern-day development outcomes such as GDP, asset ownership and poverty levels, and that these correlations hold at the district, sub-county and individual levels. We also use an instrumental variable approach to confirm this finding using the distance from ancient capital of Mubende as an instrument. However, our second finding is that public goods like immunization coverage and primary school enrolment are not correlated with pre-colonial centralization. These findings are thus consistent with a correlation between pre-colonial centralization and private rather than public goods, thereby suggesting the persistence of poverty and wealth from the pre-colonial period to the present.

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Paper provided by Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research in its series Working Papers with number 39.

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Date of creation: Nov 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cgs:wpaper:39
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  1. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2012. "Pre-colonial Ethnic Institutions and Contemporary African Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 9068, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Nunn, Nathan & Wantchekon, Leonard, 2011. "The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa," Scholarly Articles 11986331, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay & Elliott Green, 2010. "The Reversal of Fortune Thesis Reconsidered," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 016, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  4. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  5. Nicola Gennaioli & Ilia Rainer, 2007. "The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 185-234, September.
  6. Francis, Paul & James, Robert, 2003. "Balancing Rural Poverty Reduction and Citizen Participation: The Contradictions of Uganda's Decentralization Program," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 325-337, February.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Miriam Bruhn & Francisco A. Gallego, 2012. "Good, Bad, and Ugly Colonial Activities: Do They Matter for Economic Development?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 433-461, May.
  10. Jha, Saumitra, 2008. "Trade, Institutions and Religious Tolerance: Evidence from India," Research Papers 2004, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  11. Bockstette, Valerie & Chanda, Areendam & Putterman, Louis, 2002. "States and Markets: The Advantage of an Early Start," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 347-69, December.
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  13. Nathan Nunn, 2009. "The Importance of History for Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 14899, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Jonas Hjort, 2010. "Pre-colonial culture, post-colonial economic success? The Tswana and the African economic miracle," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(3), pages 688-709, 08.
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