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The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa

  • Michalopoulos, Stelios
  • Papaioannou, Elias

We examine the long-run consequences of the scramble for Africa among European powers in the late 19th century and uncover the following empirical regularities. First, using information on the spatial distribution of African ethnicities before colonization, we show that borders were arbitrarily drawn. Apart from the land mass and water area of an ethnicity's historical homeland, no other geographic, ecological, historical, and ethnic-specific traits predict which ethnic groups have been partitioned by the national border. Second, using data on the location of civil conflicts after independence, we show that partitioned ethnic groups have suffered significantly more warfare; moreover, partitioned ethnicities have experienced more prolonged and more devastating civil wars. Third, we identify sizeable spillovers; civil conflict spreads from the homeland of partitioned ethnicities to nearby ethnic regions. These results are robust to a rich set of controls at a fine level and the inclusion of country fixed effects and ethnic-family fixed effects. The uncovered evidence thus identifies a sizable causal impact of the scramble for Africa on warfare.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8676.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8676
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  1. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2013. "National Institutions and Subnational Development in Africa," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 154, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  2. Alberto Alesina & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2008. "Segregation and the Quality of Government in a Cross-Section of Countries," Working Papers w0120, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
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  10. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "History Institutions and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," Working Papers id:2811, eSocialSciences.
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  12. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2010. "Divide and Rule or the Rule of the Divided? Evidence from Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 8088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Montalvo, Jose G. & Reynal-Querol, Marta, 2005. "Ethnic diversity and economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 293-323, April.
  14. Fenske, James, 2009. "Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions?," Working Papers 74, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  15. Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "Direct versus Indirect Colonial Rule in India: Long-term Consequences," Harvard Business School Working Papers 05-041, Harvard Business School, revised Nov 2008.
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  17. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke & Soderbom, Mans, 2001. "On the duration of civil war," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2681, The World Bank.
  18. J. M. C. Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro & Frank Windmeijer, 2010. "Is it different for zeros? Discriminating between models for non-negative data with many zeros," CeMMAP working papers CWP20/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  19. Conley, T. G., 1999. "GMM estimation with cross sectional dependence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-45, September.
  20. Elise Huillery, 2009. "History Matters: The Long-Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 176-215, April.
  21. James Fenske, 2009. "Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions?," Working Papers 981, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
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