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History Matters: The Long-Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa

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  • Elise Huillery

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PJSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

To what extent do colonial public investments continue to influence current regional inequalities in French-speaking West Africa? Using a new database and the spatial discontinuities of colonial investment policy, this paper gives evidence that early colonial investments had large and persistent effects on current outcomes. The nature of investments also matters. Current educational outcomes have been more specifically determined by colonial investments in education rather than health and infrastructures, and vice versa. I show that a major channel for this historical dependency is a strong persistence of investments; regions that got more at the early colonial times continued to get more.

Suggested Citation

  • Elise Huillery, 2009. "History Matters: The Long-Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa," Post-Print hal-00813038, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00813038
    DOI: 10.1257/app.1.2.176
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal-pjse.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00813038
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    2. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay & Elliott Green, 2011. "The Reversal of Fortune Thesis Reconsidered," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(7), pages 817-831, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Johan Fourie & Leigh Gardner, 2014. "The Internationalization of Economic History: A Puzzle," Economic History of Developing Regions, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(1), pages 1-14, June.
    5. Dominique Goux & Eric Maurin, 2007. "Close Neighbours Matter: Neighbourhood Effects on Early Performance at School," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(523), pages 1193-1215, October.
    6. Bertocchi, Graziella & Canova, Fabio, 2002. "Did colonization matter for growth?: An empirical exploration into the historical causes of Africa's underdevelopment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(10), pages 1851-1871, December.
    7. Elise Huillery, 2010. "The Impact of European Settlement within French West Africa," Post-Print hal-01023805, HAL.
    8. Nicola Gennaioli & Ilia Rainer, 2007. "The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 185-234, September.
    9. Roland Hodler & Paul A. Raschky, 2014. "Regional Favoritism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 995-1033.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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