History Matters: The Long Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics
American Economic Association
176 - 215 p.
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.