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The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa

  • Stelios Michalopoulos
  • Elias Papaioannou

We examine the long run consequences of the scramble for Africa among European powers in the late 19th century and uncover the following empirical regularities. First using information on the spatial distribution of African ethicities before colonization, we show that borders were arbitrarily drawn. Apart from the land mass and water area of an ethnicity's historical homeland, no other geographic, ecological, historical, and ethnic-specific traits predict which ethnic groups have been partitioned by the national border. Second, using data on the location of civil conflicts after independence, we show that partitioned ethnic groups have suffered significantly more warfare; moreover, partitioned ethnicities have experienced more prolonged and more devastating civil wars. Third, we identify sizeable spill overs; civil conflict spreads from the homeland of partitioned ethnicities to nearby ethnic regions. These results are robust to a rich set of controls at a fine level and the inclusion of country fixed effects and ethnic family fixed effects. The uncovered evidence thus identifies a sizable causal impact of the scramble for Africa on warfare.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Tufts University in its series Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University with number 0762.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0762
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