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The long-term impact of Italian colonial roads in the Horn of Africa, 1935-2000

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  • Bertazzini, Mattia C.

Abstract

Between 1935 and 1940 the Italians built an extensive road network to facilitate the occupation of Ethiopia and secure control over the Horn of Africa, but were expelled in 1941. This provides a unique case study to examine the long-run effect of cheap transport networks on the concentration of economic activity in developing countries. The results show that cells located next to Italian paved roads are significantly richer today and that the relationship is causal. Persistence is explained by a combination of direct and indirect mechanisms: colonial roads attracted economic activity through lower transport costs until 1960. After that date, the advantage of treated locations persisted only indirectly through increasing returns to scale.

Suggested Citation

  • Bertazzini, Mattia C., 2018. "The long-term impact of Italian colonial roads in the Horn of Africa, 1935-2000," Economic History Working Papers 87074, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:87074
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/87074/
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    Cited by:

    1. Maravall Buckwalter, Laura, 2018. "Build It, and They Will Come? Secondary Railways and Population Density in French Algeria," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH 26738, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    2. Johan Fourie & Nonso Obikili, 2019. "Decolonizing with data: The cliometric turn in African economic history," Working Papers 02/2019, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    colonial transport infrastructure; roads; increasing returns to scale;

    JEL classification:

    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N77 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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