Concessions, Violence, and Indirect Rule: Evidence from the Congo Free State

151 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2020 Last revised: 13 May 2022

See all articles by Sara Lowes

Sara Lowes

Harvard University

Eduardo Montero

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Date Written: October 2020

Abstract

All colonial powers granted concessions to private companies to extract natural resources during the colonial era. Within Africa, these concessions were characterized by indirect rule and violence. We use the arbitrarily defined borders of rubber concessions granted in the north of the Congo Free State to examine the causal effects of this form of economic organization on development. We find that historical exposure to the concessions causes significantly worse education, wealth, and health outcomes. To examine mechanisms, we collect survey and experimental data from individuals near a former concession boundary. We find that village chiefs inside the former concessions provide fewer public goods, are less likely to be elected, and are more likely to be hereditary. However, individuals within the concessions are more trusting, more cohesive, and more supportive of sharing income. The results are relevant for the many places that were designated as concessions to private companies during the colonial era.

Suggested Citation

Lowes, Sara and Montero, Eduardo, Concessions, Violence, and Indirect Rule: Evidence from the Congo Free State (October 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27893, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3705104

Sara Lowes (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Eduardo Montero

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

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