The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa

From Emergent Africa Sat Dec 29 2012, 07:55:00

An argument to redraw the borders? Summary of a paper by Stelios Michalopoulos and Elias Papaioannou:

courtesy of Wikipedia

We examine the economic consequences of the partitioning of Africa among European powers in the late 19th century; a process historically known as the scramble for Africa.First, using information on the spatial distribution of African ethnicities before colonization we establish that border drawing was largely arbitrary. Apart from the land mass and waterarea of an ethnicity's historical homeland, no other geographic, ecological, historical, and ethnic-speci&fi;c trait predicts which ethnic groups have been partitioned by the national borders. Second, employing data on the location of civil con&fl;icts after independence we show that compared to ethnicities that have not been impacted by the border design,civil wars. Third, we &fi;nd that economic development --as re&fl;ected by satellite data on light density at night- is systematically lower in the historical homeland of partitioned ethnicities.These results are robust to a rich set of controls at a &fi;ne level and the inclusion of country and ethnic-family &fi;xed-effects. Our regressions thus identify a sizable causal negative effect of the scramble for Africa on comparative regional development.More here

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