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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 1 No. 2 (April 2009)

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

Article Citation

Huillery, Elise. 2009. "History Matters: The Long-Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 1(2): 176-215.

DOI: 10.1257/app.1.2.176

Abstract

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. (JEL H41, H54, N37, N47, 016)

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Authors

Huillery, Elise (Paris School of Economics and IRD, Paris)

JEL Classifications

H41: Public Goods
H54: National Government Expenditures and Related Policies: Infrastructures; Other Public Investment and Capital Stock
N37: Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Religion: Africa; Oceania
N47: Economic History: Government, War, Law, and Regulation: Africa; Oceania
O16: Economic Development: Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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