Convict Labor and the Costs of Colonial Infrastructure: Evidence from Prisons in British Nigeria, 1920-1938

59 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2019

See all articles by Belinda Archibong

Belinda Archibong

Columbia University - Barnard College

Nonso Obikili

Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA)

Date Written: May 28, 2019

Abstract

This paper studies the role of labor coercion in fiscal capacity building in Nigeria during the colonial era. We estimate the value gained from labor coercion and compare this to other colonial expenditure using evidence from British colonial Nigeria. We use datasets on wages and prisoners from 1920 through 1938 to examine the evolution of value gained from labor coercion during the period. Our results show that coerced convict labor made up a significant part of colonial expenditures. The results provide new insights on the costs of colonial infrastructure and the effects of the colonial revenue imperative on African populations.

Keywords: Convict Labor, Colonial Revenue and Expenditure, Taxation, Forced Labor, Labor Coercion, Prisons, Public Works, Nigeria, Africa

JEL Classification: H2, J47, O10, O43, N37

Suggested Citation

Archibong, Belinda and Obikili, Nonso, Convict Labor and the Costs of Colonial Infrastructure: Evidence from Prisons in British Nigeria, 1920-1938 (May 28, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3395458 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3395458

Belinda Archibong (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Barnard College ( email )

3009 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Nonso Obikili

Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA) ( email )

Newlands on Main F0301 – 3rd Floor Mariendahl Hous
Cnr Campground and Main Roads
Cape Town, Claremont 7700
South Africa

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