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When Selection Trumps Persistence: The Lasting Effect of Missionary Education in South Africa

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  • Johan Fourie and Christie Swanepoel

Abstract

To estimate the long-term, persistent effects of missionary education requires two strong assumptions: that mission station settlement is uncorrelated with other economic variables, such as soil quality and access to markets, and 2) that selection into (and out of) mission stations is unimportant. Both these assumptions are usually not sufficiently addressed, which renders the interpretation of the persistent effects of mission stations suspect. We use an 1849 mission census of the Cape Colony in South Africa to test whether, controlling for location and selection, mission station education can explain education outcomes 147 years later. Our first set of results show that Black and Coloured residents of districts with a mission station are today likely to attain more years of schooling than those in districts with no stations. In addition, when only modern-day controls are included, education seems to be the mechanism that explains this persistence. However, when we control for selection in 1849, literacy loses its explanatory power. Education outcomes may be highly persistent – even in the face of active repression by apartheid authorities – but the key factor is early selection and not education persistence.

Suggested Citation

  • Johan Fourie and Christie Swanepoel, 2015. "When Selection Trumps Persistence: The Lasting Effect of Missionary Education in South Africa," Working Papers 491, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  • Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:491
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    File URL: https://www.econrsa.org/node/997
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    Cited by:

    1. Èric Gómez-i-Aznar, 2020. "Ad maiorem Dei gloriam. Numeracy levels in the Guarani Jesuit missions," Working Papers 0181, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    2. Felix Meier zu Selhausen & Marco H. D. van Leeuwen & Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2018. "Social mobility among Christian Africans: evidence from Anglican marriage registers in Uganda, 1895–2011," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1291-1321, November.
    3. Remi Jedwab & Felix Meier zu Selhausen & Alexander Moradi, 2018. "The Economics of Missionary Expansion: Evidence from Africa and Implications for Development," CSAE Working Paper Series 2018-07, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    4. Johan Fourie & Nonso Obikili, 2019. "Decolonizing with data: The cliometric turn in African economic history," Working Papers 02/2019, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    5. Felix Meier zu Selhausen, 2019. "Missions, Education and Conversion in Colonial Africa," Palgrave Studies in Economic History, in: David Mitch & Gabriele Cappelli (ed.), Globalization and the Rise of Mass Education, chapter 0, pages 25-59, Palgrave Macmillan.
    6. Baten, Jörg & Cappelli, Gabriele, 2016. "The Evolution of Human Capital in Africa, 1730 -1970: A Colonial Legacy?," CEPR Discussion Papers 11273, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2020. "Historical Legacies and African Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 58(1), pages 53-128, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Missionaries; South Africa; Protestant; Cape Colony;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development

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