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The long Term Effects of the Printing Press in Sub Saharan Africa

  • Julia Cagé

    (EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC) - École normale supérieure [ENS] - Paris - Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA), Harvard University [Cambridge] - University of Harvard)

  • Valeria Rueda

    (IEP Paris - Sciences Po Paris - Institut d'études politiques de Paris - Institut d'Études Politiques [IEP] - Paris - PRES Sorbonne Paris Cité - Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques [FNSP])

This article delves into the relationship between newspaper readership and civic attitudes, and its e↵ect on economic development. To this end, we investigate the long-term consequences of the introduction of the printing press in the 19th century. In sub-Saharan Africa, Protestant missionaries were the first both to import the printing press technology and to allow the indigenous population to use it. We build a new geocoded dataset locating Protestant missions in 1903. This dataset includes, for each mission station, the geographic location and its characteristics, as well as the educational and health-related investments undertaken by the mission. We show that, within regions located close to missions, proximity to a printing press significantly increases newspaper readership today. We also document a strong association between proximity to a printing press and contemporary economic development. Our results are robust to a variety of identification strategies.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series PSE Working Papers with number halshs-00844446.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00844446
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  1. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Fighting Corruption to Improve Schooling: Evidence from a Newspaper Campaign in Uganda," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 259-267, 04/05.
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  9. Djankov, Simeon & et al, 2003. "Who Owns the Media?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 341-81, October.
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  11. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2011. "The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa," NBER Working Papers 17620, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Davide Cantoni, 2011. "Adopting a new religion: The case of Protestantism in 16th Century Germany," Economics Working Papers 1265, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  13. Emily Oster, 2013. "Unobservable Selection and Coefficient Stability: Theory and Validation," NBER Working Papers 19054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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