Understanding Long-Run African Growth: Colonial Institutions or Colonial Education?

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Abstract

Long-term growth in developing countries has been explained in four frameworks: 'extractive colonial institutions' (Acemoglu et al., 2001), 'colonial legal origin' (La Porta et al., 2004), 'geography' (Gallup et al., 1998) and 'colonial human capital' (Glaeser et al., 2004). In this paper we test the 'colonial human capital' explanation for sub-Saharan Africa, controlling for legal origin and geography. Utilising data on colonial era education, we find that instrumented human capital explains long-term growth better, and shows greater stability over time, than instrumented measures for extractive institutions. We suggest that the impact of the disease environment on African long-term growth runs through a human capital channel rather than an extractive-institutions channel. The effect of education is robust to including variables capturing legal origin and geography, which have additional explanatory power.

Original languageEnglish
Article number906817877
Pages (from-to)24-54
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Development Studies
Volume45
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords

  • SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
  • ECONOMIC-GROWTH
  • DEMOCRACY
  • INEQUALITY
  • ORIGINS
  • FRENCH

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