The Long-Term Effects of the Printing Press in Sub-Saharan Africa

Julia Cage

Harvard University

Valeria Rueda

Sciences Po

July 11, 2013

This article examines the long-term consequences of the introduction of the printing press in the 19th century on newspaper readership and other civic attitudes in sub-Saharan Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, Protestant missionaries were the first both to import the printing press technology and to allow the indigenous population to use it. We build a new geocoded dataset locating Protestant missions in 1903. This dataset includes, for each mission station, the geographic location and its characteristics, as well as the educational and health related investments undertaken by the mission. We show that proximity to a historical missionary settlement endowed with a printing press significantly increases newspaper readership today within regions located close to historical mission settlements. We also find a positive impact on political participation at the community level. Results are robust to a variety of identification strategies that attempt to address the potential endogenous selection of missions into printing and externalities on education and literacy.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 47

Keywords: printing press, Protestant missions, historical persistence, newspaper readership, political participation

JEL Classification: D72, N37, N77, O33, Z12, Z13

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Date posted: July 12, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Cage, Julia and Rueda, Valeria, The Long-Term Effects of the Printing Press in Sub-Saharan Africa (July 11, 2013). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2292660 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2292660

Contact Information

Julia Cage (Contact Author)
Harvard University ( email )
Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Valeria Rueda
Sciences Po ( email )
27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337
Feedback to SSRN

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