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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. Fenske, James, 2009. "Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions?," Working Papers 74, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  2. Philippe Aghion & Alberto Alesina & Francesco Trebbi, 2002. "Endogenous Political Institutions," NBER Working Papers 9006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods And Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284, November.
  4. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2010. "Divide and Rule or the Rule of the Divided? Evidence from Africa," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0756, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  5. Naritomi, Joana & Soares, Rodrigo R. & Assunção, Juliano J., 2009. "Institutional Development and Colonial Heritage within Brazil," IZA Discussion Papers 4276, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. 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).
  7. 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).
  8. Matteo Cervellati & Sunde, Uwe & Simona Valmori, 2011. "Disease Environment and Civil Conflicts," Economics Working Paper Series 1113, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  9. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2011. "The Origins of Technolinguistic Diversity," Economics Working Papers 0095, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  10. Conley, T. G., 1999. "GMM estimation with cross sectional dependence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-45, September.
  11. Montalvo, Jose G. & Reynal-Querol, Marta, 2005. "Ethnic diversity and economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 293-323, April.
  12. James D. Fearon, 2004. "Why Do Some Civil Wars Last So Much Longer than Others?," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 41(3), pages 275-301, May.
  13. Bosker, Maarten & de Ree, Joppe, 2014. "Ethnicity and the spread of civil war," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 206-221.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "Direct versus Indirect Colonial Rule in India: Long-Term Consequences," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 693-713, November.
  17. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke & Soderbom, Mans, 2001. "On the duration of civil war," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2681, The World Bank.
  18. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
  19. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2012. "The European Origins of Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 18162, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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