IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Colonisation and Development in the Former French West Africa: The Long-term Impact of the Colonial Public Policy

Listed author(s):
  • Elise Huillery


    (Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques (PSE), DIAL, Paris)

(english) To what extent did the colonial public policy influence the current regional inequalities in the Frenchspeaking West Africa? This paper uses the differences in development outcomes across the areas of the former French West Africa to show the existence of colonial long term effects on development paths. To correct from potential biases, I take carefully into account the geographical and pre-colonial characteristics of the districts and use the spatial discontinuities of the colonial public policy to control for unobservable districts’ characteristics. Results show that colonial history is a strong determinant of current development of the districts of the former French West Africa. First, the African chiefs’ association to the colonial administration played a discriminating role between districts but its effects are ambiguous, positive on educational performances and negative on the health performances. Secondly, the colonial public investments in education, health and public works explain much of the current regional development inequalities. The nature of the public investment also matters: each type of current performance has been specifically determined by the corresponding colonial investment. The colonial public policies had thus very persistent effects and played a strong spatial discriminating role. _________________________________ (français) Dans quelle mesure les inégalités spatiales en Afrique de l’Ouest francophone ont-elles été influencées par la politique publique menée par les Français pendant la période coloniale ? Ce papier utilise les différences de développement entre les cercles de l’ancienne Afrique Occidentale Française (AOF) pour mettre en évidence des effets de long terme de la colonisation sur les trajectoires de développement. Les caractéristiques géographiques ainsi que l’histoire précoloniale des cercles ont été prises en compte pour corriger l’éventuelle endogénéité de la politique coloniale. J’utilise ensuite les discontinuités spatiales de la politique coloniale pour contrôler également certaines caractéristiques inobservables des cercles. Les résultats montrent que l’histoire coloniale fut un déterminant important du développement des cercles de l’ancienne AOF. La première source de discrimination spatiale fut la politique d’association des chefs africains dans l’administration coloniale, mais son effet reste ambigu : elle a joué positivement sur les performances éducatives mais négativement sur les performances de santé. La deuxième source de discrimination entre les cercles, plus importante que la première, fut la politique d’investissement en biens publics (éducation, santé, infrastructures), qui explique une part importante des inégalités de développement actuelles entre les cercles. On observe enfin que la nature des investissements importe, même à long terme : les performances actuelles dans les domaines de l’éducation, de la santé et des infrastructures sont chacune spécifiquement expliquées par l’investissement colonial « correspondant ». La politique coloniale française a donc créé des discriminations spatiales très persistantes dont les marques sont encore nettement visibles aujourd’hui.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: First version, 2006
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation) in its series Working Papers with number DT/2006/12.

in new window

Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2006
Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200612
Contact details of provider: Postal:
4, rue d'Enghien, 75010 Paris

Phone: + 33 1 53 24 14 50
Fax: + 33 1 53 24 14 51
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200612. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Loic Le Pezennec)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.