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Understanding long-run African growth: colonial institutions or colonial education?

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Bolt, Jutta; Bezemer, Dirk

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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 origins and geography. Utilizing 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.
Classification Sociology of Education; Sociology of Developing Countries, Developmental Sociology; Social History, Historical Social Research
Free Keywords economic development; economics, education; Sub-Saharan Africa
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 24-54
Journal Journal of Development Studies, 45 (2008) 1
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)