DP10258 Further Evidence on the Link between Pre-Colonial Political Centralization and Comparative Economic Development in Africa

Author(s): Stelios Michalopoulos, Elias Papaioannou
Publication Date: November 2014
Keyword(s): Africa, development, ethnicity, institutions, state capacity
JEL(s): O10, O40, O43
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10258

We examine the link between pre-colonial statehood and contemporary regional African development, as reflected in satellite images on light density at night. We employ a variety of historical maps to capture the former. Our within-country analysis reveals a strong positive correlation between pre-colonial political centralization and contemporary development (and urbanization). If anything, the association strengthens when we account for measurement error on the historical maps of pre-colonial political organization.