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Did Colonization Matter for Growth? An Empirical Exploration into the Historical Causes of Africa's Underdevelopment

Listed author(s):
  • Bertocchi, Graziella
  • Canova, Fabio

This paper investigates the impact of twentieth-century European colonization on African countries. We find that colonization mattered for growth. The following had some beneficial growth effects: being a dependency rather than a colony; being a colony of France or the United Kingdom rather than Belgium, Italy or Portugal; and being less exploited. On average, growth accelerates after independence. Variables proxying for colonial heritage add explanatory power to standard growth regressions, while indicators for human capital and political and ethnic instability lose significance. The coefficient of a dummy for sub-Saharan Africa becomes less significant in a cross section of 98 countries after controlling for colonial experience.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 1444.

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Date of creation: Sep 1996
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1444
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  1. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-279, April.
  2. 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.
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  6. Schmidt-Hebbel, Klaus, 1996. "Fiscal Adjustment and Growth: In and Out of Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 5(3), pages 7-59, October.
  7. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Why Doesn't Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 92-96, May.
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  12. Herschel I. Grossman & Murat F. Iyigun, 1995. "The Profitability Of Colonial Investment," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 229-241, November.
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  14. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Trade Policy and Economic Performance in Sub-Saharan Africa," NBER Working Papers 6562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  19. Romer, Paul M., 1990. "Human capital and growth: Theory and evidence," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 251-286, January.
  20. repec:hrv:faseco:30747160 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Paolo Mauro, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712.
  22. Sachs, Jeffrey D & Warner, Andrew M, 1997. "Sources of Slow Growth in African Economies," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 6(3), pages 335-376, October.
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  25. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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