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

Author

Listed:
  • Alfani, Guido

    (Bocconi University, IGIER and Dondena Centre)

  • Tadei, Federico

    (Universitat de Barcelona)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alfani, Guido & Tadei, Federico, 2017. "Income Inequality In Colonial Africa: Building Social Tables For Pre-Independence Central African Republic, Ivory Coast And Senegal," African Economic History Working Paper 33/2017, African Economic History Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:afekhi:2017_033
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    Cited by:

    1. Sédi-Anne Boukaka & Giulia Mancini & Giovanni Vecchi, 2021. "Poverty and inequality in Francophone Africa, 1960s–2010s," Economic History of Developing Regions, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(1), pages 1-29, January.
    2. Alvaredo, Facundo & Cogneau, Denis & Piketty, Thomas, 2021. "Income inequality under colonial rule. Evidence from French Algeria, Cameroon, Tunisia, and Vietnam and comparisons with British colonies 1920–1960," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Africa; Inequality; Income Distribution; Development; Extractive Institutions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N17 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth

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