The Modern Impact of Precolonial Centralization in Africa

62 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2005  

Nicola Gennaioli

Bocconi University - Department of Finance; Bocconi University - IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research

Ilia Rainer

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Date Written: November 2005

Abstract

We assess, theoretically and empirically, the view that precolonial political institutions shaped the performance of colonial and postcolonial African governments. Using anthropological data, we find a strong positive association between the provision of public goods such as education, health and infrastructure in African countries and the centralization of their ethnic groups' precolonial institutions. To empirically identify the effect of precolonial centralization, we build and test a model where centralization boosts public goods by making local elites more accountable. Our results are consistent with the view that precolonial centralization shaped the success of modernization policies in Africa by reducing policy capture by local elites. The paper documents the importance of precolonial institutions and stresses the desirability of centralization when local capture undermines socioeconomic reforms.

Keywords: Precolonial Centralization, Modernization, Africa

JEL Classification: O10, O55, P16, P50

Suggested Citation

Gennaioli, Nicola and Rainer, Ilia, The Modern Impact of Precolonial Centralization in Africa (November 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=848164 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.848164

Nicola Gennaioli (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Finance ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milano, MI 20136
Italy

Bocconi University - IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

Ilia Rainer

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ( email )

450 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20549-1105
United States

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