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The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa

  • Stelios Michalopoulos
  • Elias Papaioannou

We examine the long-run consequences of ethnic partitioning, a neglected aspect of the Scramble for Africa caused by the colonial border drawing, and uncover the following regularities. First, apart from the land mass and presence of water bodies, historical homelands of split and non-split groups are similar across a wealth of observable characteristics. Second, using geo-referenced data on conflict and exploiting within-country variation, we show that the incidence, severity and duration of violence are higher in the historical homelands of partitioned groups. Third, we shed some light on the mechanisms showing that military interventions from neighboring countries and conflict between government forces and rebels that aim at countering state authority are much more likely in the homelands of split groups. Fourth, our exploration of the status of ethnic groups in the political arena reveals that partitioned ethnicities are systematically discriminated from the national government and are more likely to participate in ethnic civil wars. Finally, using micro-level data we find that individuals identifying with split groups have lower access to public goods and lower education. The uncovered evidence brings in the foreground the detrimental repercussions of ethnic partitioning.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17620.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17620
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  1. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2012. "National Institutions and Subnational Development in Africa," NBER Working Papers 18275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Philippe Aghion & Alberto Alesina & Francesco Trebbi, 2002. "Endogenous Political Institutions," NBER Working Papers 9006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Conley, T. G., 1999. "GMM estimation with cross sectional dependence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-45, September.
  4. Joana Narotomi & Rodrigo Soares & Juliano J. Assunção, 2009. "Institutional Development and Colonial Heritage within Brazil," Textos para discussão 561, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
  5. Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 2012. "The European origins of economic development," MPRA Paper 39413, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Elise Huillery, 2009. "History Matters: The Long Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/10262, Sciences Po.
  7. 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.
  8. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2009. "The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 110, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  9. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2010. "Divide and Rule or the Rule of the Divided? Evidence from Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 8088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Alberto Alesina & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2008. "Segregation and the Quality of Government in a Cross-Section of Countries," Working Papers w0120, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  11. Montalvo, Jose G. & Reynal-Querol, Marta, 2005. "Ethnic diversity and economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 293-323, April.
  12. Alesina, Alberto & Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William, 1999. "Public goods and ethnic divisions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2108, The World Bank.
  13. James D. Fearon, 2004. "Why Do Some Civil Wars Last So Much Longer than Others?," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 41(3), pages 275-301, May.
  14. Bosker, Maarten & de Ree, Joppe, 2014. "Ethnicity and the spread of civil war," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 206-221.
  15. James Fenske, 2013. "Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(12), pages 1363-1390, December.
  16. James Fenske, 2009. "Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions?," Working Papers 981, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  17. J. M. C. Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro & Frank Windmeijer, 2010. "Is it different for zeros? Discriminating between models for non-negative data with many zeros," CeMMAP working papers CWP20/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  18. Matteo Cervellati & Sunde, Uwe & Simona Valmori, 2011. "Disease Environment and Civil Conflicts," Economics Working Paper Series 1113, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  19. Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "Direct versus Indirect Colonial Rule in India: Long-Term Consequences," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 693-713, November.
  20. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler & Måns Söderbom, 2004. "On the Duration of Civil War," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 41(3), pages 253-273, May.
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