Numeracy of Africans, Asians, and Europeans During the Early Modern Period: New Evidence from Cape Colony Court Registers

25 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2015

See all articles by Jörg Baten

Jörg Baten

University of Tuebingen - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Johan Fourie

Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University

Date Written: May 2015

Abstract

The lack of accurate measures of human capital formation often constrains investigations into the long‐run determinants of growth and comparative economic development, especially in the developing world. Using the reported ages of criminals in the Court of Justice records in the Cape Archives, this article documents for the first time numeracy levels and trends for inhabitants of the Cape Colony born between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth century: the native Khoesan, European settlers, and imported slaves from other African regions and Asia. This variety of origins allows us to compare contemporaneous levels of early modern development across three continents. By isolating those slaves born at the Cape, we also provide a glimpse into the dynamics of human capital transfer in a colonial setting. The Colony's relatively high level of human capital overall had implications for what was later to be the richest country on African soil, but the very unequal attainment of numeracy also foreshadowed extreme income inequality.

Suggested Citation

Baten, Jorg and Fourie, Johan, Numeracy of Africans, Asians, and Europeans During the Early Modern Period: New Evidence from Cape Colony Court Registers (May 2015). The Economic History Review, Vol. 68, Issue 2, pp. 632-656, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2588777 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0289.12064

Jorg Baten (Contact Author)

University of Tuebingen - Department of Economics ( email )

Mohlstrasse 36
D-72074 Tuebingen, 72074
Germany
+49 7071 2972985 (Phone)
+49 7071 295119 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Johan Fourie

Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University ( email )

Private Bag X1
Stellenbosch, Western Cape 7602
South Africa

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
0
Abstract Views
126
PlumX Metrics