How Africans Shaped British Colonial Institutions: Evidence from Local Taxation

Jutta Bolt, Leigh Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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The institutions that governed most of the rural population in British colonial Africa have been neglected in the literature on colonialism. We use new data on local governments, or “Native Authorities,” to present the first quantitative comparison of African institutions under indirect rule in four colonies in 1948: Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Nyasaland, and Kenya. Tax data show that Native Authorities’ capacity varied within and between colonies, due to both underlying economic inequalities and African elites’ relations with the colonial government. Our findings suggest that Africans had a bigger hand in shaping British colonial institutions than often acknowledged.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1189-1223
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Economic History
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2020


  • Africa
  • Institutions
  • colonialism


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