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Literacy at South African Mission Stations

Author

Listed:
  • Johan Fourie

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

  • Robert Ross

    () (Deapertments of History, Universities of Leiden and South Africa)

  • Russel Viljoen

    () (Department of History, University of South Africa)

Abstract

Measures of education quality – primarily, years of schooling or literacy rates – are widely used to ascertain the contribution of human capital formation to long-run economic growth and development. This paper, using a census of 4,678 mission station residents, documents for the first time literacy and numeracy rates of non-white citizens in nineteenth-century South Africa. The 1849 census allows for an investigation into how the mission stations influenced the growth of literacy in the Cape Colony. We find that age, gender, duration of residence, whether the individual arrived at the station after the emancipation of slaves or was born there and, importantly, which missionary society was operating the station, matter for literacy performance. The results offer new insights into the comparative performance of missionary societies in South Africa and contribute to the debate about the role of missionary societies in the development of a colonial society.

Suggested Citation

  • Johan Fourie & Robert Ross & Russel Viljoen, 2013. "Literacy at South African Mission Stations," Working Papers 06/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers182
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    File URL: https://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2013/wp062013/wp-06-2013.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Benno Torgler, 2009. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History: A Comment on Becker and Woessmann," CREMA Working Paper Series 2009-06, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    2. Ewout H.P. Frankema, 2012. "The origins of formal education in sub-Saharan Africa: was British rule more benign?," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 335-355, November.
    3. Francisco A. Gallego & Robert Woodberry, 2010. "Christian Missionaries and Education in Former African Colonies: How Competition Mattered," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 19(3), pages 294-329, June.
    4. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 783-808, September.
    5. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2011. "Introduction to "Economic Development in the Americas since 1500: Endowments and Institutions"," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Development in the Americas since 1500: Endowments and Institutions, pages 1-8 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Rachel M. McCleary & Robert J. Barro, 2006. "Religion and Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 49-72, Spring.
    7. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2011. "Economic Development in the Americas since 1500: Endowments and Institutions," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number enge11-1.
    8. Nathan Nunn, 2010. "Religious Conversion in Colonial Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 147-152, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Jeanne Cilliers & Martine Mariotti, 2017. "The Shaping of a Settler Fertility Transition: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century South African Demographic History Reconsidered," CEH Discussion Papers 08, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    human capital; South Africa; missionary; literacy; age-heaping;

    JEL classification:

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

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