Nov 24, 2010

British colonialism: Bad. French colonialism: Worse.

We've known for a while that the French colony dummy does worse than the Britsih one in cross country regressions. Now more evidence comes from a discountinuity analysis of Cameroon, which was colonized by both the French and English after the Germans had to leave:
Many scholars have suggested that British institutions and culture are more conducive to growth and poverty alleviation than those of France or other colonizers. Systematic tests of this hypothesis have plagued by unobserved heterogeneity among nations due to variable pre- and post-colonial histories. To deal with this problem, we focus on the West African nation of Cameroon, which includes regions colonized by both Britain and France. Taking advantage of the artificial nature of the former colonial boundary, we use it as a discontinuity within a national demographic survey. We show that rural areas on the British side of discontinuity have higher levels of wealth and local public provision of improved water sources. Results for urban areas and centrally-provided public goods show no such effect, suggesting that post-independence policies also play a role in shaping outcomes.

But this doesn't mean British colonialism is good. Another recent paper compares economic outcomes across areas in India which were under direct British colonial rule with areas which were under indirect colonial rule.
Controlling for selective annexation using a specific policy rule, I find that areas which experienced direct rule have significantly lower levels of access to schools, health centers and roads in the post-colonial period. I find evidence that the quality of governance in the colonial period has a significant persistent effect on post-colonial outcomes.
Hat tip: FP.

1 comment:

Dany Jaimovich - Bakary Baludin said...

Cristian Morrison had an interesting explanation for that: British colonizer in Africa were missioners that at least cared about education. French colonizer were leftist bureaucrats that just wanted to make a career....