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Sea Change: The Competing Long-Run Impacts of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Missionary Activity in Africa

Listed author(s):
  • Okoye, Dozie
  • Pongou, Roland

This paper contributes to the debate on the effect of European contact on African societies by comparing the long-run economic impacts of the transatlantic slave trade and historical missionary activity. Recognizing that early missionary activity in Africa was unintentionally aided by the preceding slave trade, it proposes an analytical framework in which the effect of the slave trade was partially mediated by missions. Using unique data from Nigeria, we analyze the causal effects of these shocks on schooling attainment, and consequent effects on literacy rates and self-employment. We �find a total negative effect of the transatlantic slave trade on schooling; its negative direct effect outweighs its positive indirect effect through missionary activity. Missionary activity, on the other hand, has a strong positive direct effect which outweighs the total negative effect of the slave trade. Furthermore, individuals whose ancestors were historically exposed to greater missionary activity are more likely to be literate and less likely to be self-employed, consistent with the positive effect of missionary activity on schooling. In contrast, exposure to the slave trade is associated with lower literacy rates and a greater likelihood of being self-employed. Analyzing the mechanisms, we provide evidence suggesting that the persistent effects of these historical shocks are due to intergenerational factors and higher schooling infrastructure in areas that were less exposed to the slave trade or more exposed to missionary activity. Consistent with a simple theory, these persistent effects are larger for women, younger cohorts, rural residents, and migrants. Religion does not appear to be especially important, and the �findings rule out an explanation based on simple changes in tastes for schooling.

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File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/66221/1/MPRA_paper_66221.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 66221.

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Date of creation: 10 Aug 2015
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:66221
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  1. Elise Huillery, 2009. "History Matters: The Long-Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 176-215, April.
  2. Akyeampong,Emmanuel & Bates,Robert H. & Nunn,Nathan & Robinson,James (ed.), 2014. "Africa's Development in Historical Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107041158, August.
  3. Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176.
  4. Ewout H.P. Frankema, 2012. "The origins of formal education in sub-Saharan Africa: was British rule more benign?," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 335-355, November.
  5. Kleibergen, Frank & Paap, Richard, 2006. "Generalized reduced rank tests using the singular value decomposition," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 97-126, July.
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  7. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
  8. Areendam Chanda & C. Justin Cook & Louis Putterman, 2014. "Persistence of Fortune: Accounting for Population Movements, There Was No Post-Columbian Reversal," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 1-28, July.
  9. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 8769, June.
  10. James H. Stock & Jonathan Wright, 2000. "GMM with Weak Identification," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1055-1096, September.
  11. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  12. Leonard Wantchekon & Marko Klašnja & Natalija Novta, 2015. "Education and Human Capital Externalities: Evidence from Colonial Benin," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 703-757.
  13. Warren Whatley & Rob Gillezeau, 2011. "The Impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on Ethnic Stratification in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 571-576, May.
  14. Okoye, Dozie & Pongou, Roland, 2014. "Historical Missionary Activity, Schooling, and the Reversal of Fortunes: Evidence from Nigeria," MPRA Paper 58052, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Akyeampong,Emmanuel & Bates,Robert H. & Nunn,Nathan & Robinson,James (ed.), 2014. "Africa's Development in Historical Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107691209, August.
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