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How Does Colonial Origin Matter for Economic Performance in sub-Saharan Africa?

J.A. Agbor, J.W. Fedderke, & N. Viegi
Publication date
March 2010
This paper investigates the channels through which colonial origin affects economic outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It focuses on four key channels of transmission namely, human capital, trade openness, market distortion and selection bias. In contrast with previous studies where only initial conditions at independence were held to influence the subsequent growth path, the methodology that we apply in this paper combines (1) the pre-colonisation initial conditions, (2) the initial conditions at independence and (3) the subsequent post-colonial changes in explaining income differences amongst former SSA colonies. Our sample comprises of 38 SSA countries studied over the period 1960-2000, and we use pooled OLS and Hausman-Taylor estimation techniques in a panel framework. The results suggest that former British colonies have had marginally higher income levels than former French colonies, and this is attributable to the legacy of British colonisation in trade openness and human capital. We do not find robust evidence in support of the market distortion and selection bias channels. Besides highlighting the importance of the trade openness channel, the study is also the first, to the best of our knowledge, to simultaneously examine a range of feasible transmission channels between colonial origin and economic growth performance.
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Series title
Working Paper 176
JEL classifications