Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy: Africa; Oceania

Why local context matters: de jure and de facto property rights in colonial South Africa

For economic transactions, including debt transactions, to occur in a market system, property rights are essential. The literature has focussed on finding empirical proof of the effect of property right regimes, noting differences between de jure and de facto property rights. Yet most of these studies focus on macroeconomic outcomes, like economic growth and public expenditure.

Social mobility during South Africa’s industrial take-off

In the absence of historical income or education data, the change in occupations over time can be used as a measure of social mobility. This paper investigates intergenerational occupational mobility using a novel genealogical dataset for settler South Africa, spanning its transition from an agricultural to an early industrialized society (1800–1909). We identify fathers and sons for whom we have complete information on occupational attainment. We follow a two-generation discrete approach to measure changes in both absolute and relative mobility over time.

When Selection Trumps Persistence: The Lasting Effect of Missionary Education in South Africa

To estimate the long-term, persistent effects of missionary education requires two strong assumptions: that mission station settlement is uncorrelated with other economic variables, such as soil quality and access to markets, and 2) that selection into (and out of) mission stations is unimportant. Both these assumptions are usually not sufficiently addressed, which renders the interpretation of the persistent effects of mission stations suspect.

Father's Employment and Sons' Stature: The Long Running Effects of a Positive Regional Employment Shock in South Africa's Mining Industry

I exploit the unexpected increase in employment in 1975, 76 and 77 in the South African homelands to compare the long term adult outcomes of children whose fathers benefitted from the employment increase to those who did not. Using a standard difference in difference approach I find that the shock affected males who were either newborn or in utero at the time, providing support to the fetal origins hypothesis and showing the importance of mother’s nutrition.

Social Capital and Human Capital in the Colonies: A Study of Cocoa Farmers in Western Nigeria

I examine the relationship between social and human capital in colonial Western Nigeria. Using data on expenditure of cocoa farmers in 1952, I show that farmers in townships with higher social spending individually spend more on education. The relationship holds after controlling for various characteristics of the farmers and the townships. Thus I show that there is a relationship between social and human capital and that this relationship was already present during the colonial era.

The Impact of the Slave Trade on Literacy in Africa: Evidence from the Colonial Era

Recent studies have highlighted the importance of Africa's history of slave exporting to its current economic development. In this paper I show that differences in investment in education may be one of the channels through which that history has affected current development. I combine data on literacy rates of administrative districts from the colonial censuses of Nigeria and Ghana from the 1950's with data on slave exports of different ethnic groups.

Heights and Development in a Cash-Crop Colony: Living Standards in Ghana, 1870-1980

While Ghana is a classic case of economic growth in an agricultural‐export colony, scholars have queried whether it was sustained, and how far its benefits were widely distributed, socially and regionally. Using height as a measure of human well‐being we explore the evolution of living standards and regional inequality in Ghana from 1870 to 1980. Our findings suggest that, overall, living standards improved during colonial times and that a trend reversal occurred during the economic crisis in the 1973‐83.

Slave numeracy in the Cape Colony and comparative development in the eighteenth century

The lack of accurate measures of human capital formation often constrain investigations into the long-run determinants of growth and comparative economic development, especially in regions such as Africa. Using the reported age of criminals in the Courts of Justice records in the Cape Archive, this paper documents, for the first time, the levels of and trends in numeracy for inhabitants of the Cape Colony born between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries. Cape inhabitants included the native Khoe and San, European settlers, and imported slaves from other African regions and Asia.

The wealth of the Cape Colony: Measurements from probate inventories

The stylized view of the Dutch Cape Colony (1652-1795) is of a poor, subsistence economy, with little progress in the first 143 years of Dutch rule. New evidence from probate inventory and auction roll records show that previous estimates about wealth at the Cape are inaccurate. In contrast to earlier historical accounts, the inventories reveal evidence of an affluent, market-integrated settler society, comparable to the most prosperous regions in eighteenth century England and Holland.

Settler skills and colonial development

The emphasis on location-specific factors, such as climate or disease environment, in the explanation of development outcomes in colonial societies implicitly assumes that settler groups were homogenous. Using tax records, this paper shows that the French Huguenots who immigrated to Dutch South Africa at the end of the 17th century were more productive wine-makers than the already-established non-French farmers. Standard factors of production usually associated with faster growth do not explain the differences between the two groups.

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