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The colonial legacy: Income inequality in former British African colonies

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  • Atkinson, A.B.

Abstract

This paper examines the distribution of top incomes in 15 former British colonies in Africa, drawing on evidence available from income tax records. It seeks to throw light on the position of colonial elites during the period of British rule. Just how unequal were incomes? How did the position of the rich in the colonies compare with that of the rich in the United Kingdom? It investigates how income concentration evolved in the last years of colonial rule, as the British government became more concerned with development, and establishes the degree of inequality at the time of independence in the late 1950s and early 1960s. What was the colonial legacy? How far did colonial inequality persist post-independence?

Suggested Citation

  • Atkinson, A.B., 2014. "The colonial legacy: Income inequality in former British African colonies," WIDER Working Paper Series 045, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2014-045
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    File URL: http://www.wider.unu.edu/sites/default/files/wp2014-045.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    2. Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1953. "Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn53-1.
    3. Gastwirth, Joseph L, 1972. "The Estimation of the Lorenz Curve and Gini Index," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 54(3), pages 306-316, August.
    4. Shantayanan Devarajan, 2013. "Africa's Statistical Tragedy," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59, pages 9-15, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Research Round-Up
      by Robin in Cherokee Gothic on 2014-05-21 18:59:00
    2. The colonial legacy: Income inequality in former British African colonies
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2014-05-27 19:52:00

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:deveco:v:127:y:2017:i:c:p:459-469 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Teyu Chou & Cyrus Chu, 2015. "Top Incomes in Taiwan, 1977-2013," Working Papers 201506, World Inequality Lab.
    3. Alvaredo, Facundo & Bergeron, Augustin & Cassan, Guilhem, 2017. "Income concentration in British India, 1885–1946," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 459-469.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    inequality; income distribution; colonial Africa;

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