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

47 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2013 Last revised: 7 May 2014

Julia Cage

Sciences Po Paris Department of Economics

Valeria Rueda

SciencesPo - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 2014

Abstract

This article delves into the relationship between newspaper readership and civic attitudes, and its effect on economic development. To this end, we investigate the long-term consequences of the introduction of the printing press in the 19th century. 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, within regions located close to missions, proximity to a printing press significantly increases newspaper readership today. We also document a strong association between proximity to a printing press and contemporary economic development. Our results are robust to a variety of identification strategies.

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

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

Suggested Citation

Cage, Julia and Rueda, Valeria, The Long-Term Effects of the Printing Press in Sub-Saharan Africa (April 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2292660 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2292660

Julia Cage (Contact Author)

Sciences Po Paris Department of Economics ( email )

28 Rue des Saints-Pères
Paris, 75007
France

Valeria Rueda

SciencesPo - Department of Economics ( email )

27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337
France

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