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History Matters: The Long Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa

  • Elise Huillery

To what extent do colonial public investments continue to influence current regional inequalities in French-speaking West Africa? Using a new database and the spatial discontinuities of colonial investment policy, this paper gives evidence that early colonial investments had large and persistent effects on current outcomes. The nature of investments also matters. Current educational outcomes have been more specifically determined by colonial investments in education rather than health and infrastructures, and vice versa. I show that a major channel for this historical dependency is a strong persistence of investments; regions that got more at the early colonial times continued to get more.

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Paper provided by Sciences Po in its series Sciences Po publications with number info:hdl:2441/10262.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Publication status: Published in American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2009, vol. 1, pp.176-215
Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/10262
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.sciencespo.fr/

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  1. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "History Institutions and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," Working Papers id:2811, eSocialSciences.
  2. Bertocchi, Graziella & Canova, Fabio, 1996. "Did Colonization Matter for Growth? An Empirical Exploration into the Historical Causes of Africa's Underdevelopment," CEPR Discussion Papers 1444, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Goux, Dominique & Maurin, Eric, 2006. "Close Neighbours Matter: Neighbourhood Effects on Early Performance at School," IZA Discussion Papers 2095, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Nicola Gennaioli & Ilia Rainer, 2007. "The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 185-234, September.
  5. Elise Huillery, 2010. "The Impact of European Settlement within French West Africa," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/c8dmi8nm4pd, Sciences Po.
  6. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
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