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Income Inequality In Colonial Africa: Building Social Tables For Pre-Independence Central African Republic, Ivory Coast And Senegal

Listed author(s):
  • Alfani, Guido

    ()

    (Bocconi University, IGIER and Dondena Centre)

  • Tadei, Federico

    ()

    (Universitat de Barcelona)

Today, income inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa is exceptionally high. In this paper, we study whether present-day inequality can be traced back to the colonial period by reconstructing income distributions in a sample of representative colonies. To do so, we use data from colonial records to build new social tables for French colonies in West and Central Africa and we combine them with available information on British colonies in East and Southern Africa. We find that inequality in Africa is not a recent phenomenon. Income inequality was extremely high during the colonial period, in particular because of the huge income differential between Africans and European settlers. Nevertheless, it tended to reduce over time and the post-colonial period is characterized by much lower inequality. Interestingly, the decline of inequality is not necessarily a consequence of independence: the trends toward reduction started under colonial rule.

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Paper provided by African Economic History Network in its series African Economic History Working Paper with number 33/2017.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 10 Mar 2017
Handle: RePEc:hhs:afekhi:2017_033
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.aehnetwork.org/

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