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Understanding Long-Run African Growth: Colonial Institutions or Colonial Education? Evidence from a New Data Set

  • Bolt, Jutta
  • Bezemer, Dirk
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    Long-term growth in developing countries has been explained in four frameworks: ‘extractive colonial institutions’ (Acemoglu et al., 2001), ‘colonial legal origin’ (La Porta et al., 2004) ‘geography’ (Gallup et al., 1998) and ‘colonial human capital’ (Glaeser et al., 2004). In this paper we test the ‘colonial human capital’ explanation for sub-Saharan Africa, controlling for legal origins and geography. Utilizing freshly collected data on colonial-era population density and education, we find that in sub-Saharan Africa, high European population mortality did not lead to low European population densities, contra Acemoglu et al., (2001). Further, we find that instrumented human capital explains long-term growth better, and shows greater stability over time, than instrumented measures for extractive institutions. We therefore suggest that the impact of the disease environment on African long-term growth runs through a human capital channel rather than an extractive-institutions channel. The effect of education is robust to including variables capturing legal origin and geography, which have additional explanatory power. We also find some evidence that institutions are endogenous to education.

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    File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/7029/1/MPRA_paper_7029.pdf
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    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 7029.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:7029
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    1. Pranab Bardhan, 1993. "Symposium on Democracy and Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 45-49, Summer.
    2. 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.
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    5. Bennell, Paul, 1996. "Rates of return to education: Does the conventional pattern prevail in sub-Saharan Africa?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 183-199, January.
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