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

  • Julia Cagé

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC) - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Harvard University [Cambridge])

  • Valeria Rueda

    (IEP Paris - Sciences Po Paris - Institut d'études politiques de Paris)

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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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00844446
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