Subnational Border Reforms and Economic Development in Africa

48 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2022

See all articles by Sebastian Blesse

Sebastian Blesse

Deutsche Bundesbank - Research Department

Thushyanthan Baskaran

University of Siegen


This paper is the first that comprehensively identifies all territories in Africa affected by subnational border reforms during 1992-2013 with GIS methods. With this data, we study the effect of subnational border reforms on local economic development. Difference-in-difference regressions at the grid-level with nighttime luminosity as proxy for local economic activity suggest that border changes have, on average, positive long-run economic effects. However, we also observe significant country-level heterogeneity, which suggests that prevailing institutions as well as fundamental country-specific characteristics are vital determinants of the economic efficacy of subnational border changes. The (official) reasons given for subnational border changes are less important.

Keywords: Border reforms, Economic Development, night-light data, Africa

Suggested Citation

Blesse, Sebastian and Baskaran, Thushyanthan, Subnational Border Reforms and Economic Development in Africa. Available at SSRN: or

Sebastian Blesse (Contact Author)

Deutsche Bundesbank - Research Department ( email )

PO Box 10 06 02
D60006 Frankfurt

Thushyanthan Baskaran

University of Siegen ( email )

Hoelderlinstrasse 3
57068 Siegen, NRW 57068

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