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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: https://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. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Courts: The Lex Mundi Project," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1951, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    3. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, 09.
    4. Simeon Djankov & Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer, 2003. "The New Comparative Economics," NBER Working Papers 9608, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Edward Glaeser & Giacomo Ponzetto & Andrei Shleifer, 2007. "Why does democracy need education?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 77-99, June.
    6. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, . "The Quality of Government," Working Paper 19452, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    7. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 2000. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," CID Working Papers 42, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    8. Francisco A. Gallego, 2010. "Historical Origins of Schooling: The Role of Democracy and Political Decentralization," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 228-243, May.
    9. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Cristian Pop-Eleches & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Judicial Checks and Balances," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 445-470, April.
    10. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2003. "Institutions Don't Rule: Direct Effects of Geography on Per Capita Income," NBER Working Papers 9490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. 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.
    12. Pranab Bardhan, 1993. "Symposium on Democracy and Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 45-49, Summer.
    13. Adam Przeworski & Fernando Limongi, 1993. "Political Regimes and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 51-69, Summer.
    14. Jonathan Isham & Michael Woolcock & Lant Pritchett & Gwen Busby, 2003. "The Varieties of Resource Experience: How Natural Resource Export Structures Affect the Political Economy of Economic Growth," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0308, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
    15. 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.
    16. Paul Collier & Jan Willem Gunning, 1999. "Why Has Africa Grown Slowly?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
    17. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
    18. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2005. "The Emergence of Human Capital Promoting Institutions in the Process of Development," GE, Growth, Math methods 0508008, EconWPA.
    19. Sachs, Jeffrey D & Warner, Andrew M, 1997. "Sources of Slow Growth in African Economies," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 6(3), pages 335-76, October.
    20. Barro, Robert J, 1996. "Democracy and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-27, March.
    21. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
    22. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 1993. "International Comparisons of Educational Attainment," NBER Working Papers 4349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Pritchett, Lant, 1996. "Where has all the education gone?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1581, The World Bank.
    24. Evelyne Huber & Dietrich Rueschemeyer & John D. Stephens, 1993. "The Impact of Economic Development on Democracy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 71-86, Summer.
    25. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2001. "Tropical Underdevelopment," NBER Working Papers 8119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    26. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew D. Mellinger, 1998. "Geography and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 6849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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