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How Does Colonial Origin Matter for Economic Performance in sub-Saharan Africa?

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Abstract

This paper investigates the channels through which colonial origin affects economic outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It focuses on four key channels of transmission namely, human capital, trade openness, market distortion and selection bias. In contrast with previous studies where only initial conditions at independence were held to influence the subsequent growth path, the methodology that we apply in this paper combines (1) the pre-colonisation initial conditions, (2) the initial conditions at independence and (3) the subsequent post-colonial changes in explaining income differences amongst former SSA colonies. Our sample comprises of 38 SSA countries studied over the period 1960-2000, and we use pooled OLS and Hausman-Taylor estimation techniques in a panel framework. The results suggest that former British colonies have had marginally higher income levels than former French colonies, and this is attributable to the legacy of British colonisation in trade openness and human capital. We do not find robust evidence in support of the market distortion and selection bias channels. Besides highlighting the importance of the trade openness channel, the study is also the first, to the best of our knowledge, to simultaneously examine a range of feasible transmission channels between colonial origin and economic growth performance.

Suggested Citation

  • J.A. Agbor & J. W. Fedderke & N. Viegi, 2010. "How Does Colonial Origin Matter for Economic Performance in sub-Saharan Africa?," Working Papers 176, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  • Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:176
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    1. Jacek Rostowski & Bogdan Stacescu, 2006. "The Wig and the Pith Helmet - the Impact of "Legal School" versus Colonial Institutions on Economic Performance (second version)," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 0300, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
    2. 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.
    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, September.
    4. Grier, Robin M, 1999. "Colonial Legacies and Economic Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 317-335, March.
    5. repec:hrv:faseco:30728041 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Gregory N. Price, 2003. "Economic Growth in a Cross-section of Nonindustrial Countries: Does Colonial Heritage Matter for Africa?," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 478-495, August.
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    Keywords

    Colonial Origin; Human Capital; Institutions; Hausman-Taylor; sub-Saharan Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • N17 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Africa; Oceania

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