DP14198 African institutions under colonial rule

Author(s): Jutta Bolt, Leigh Gardner
Publication Date: December 2019
Keyword(s): Africa, Colonialism, institutions
JEL(s): N47, N97
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14198

Colonial institutions in Africa are the subject of a substantial literature, but it neglects the local institutions which governed Africans in rural areas. This paper uses new data on local African governments, or "Native Authorities" in British Africa to present the first quantitative comparison of African institutions under indirect rule in the late colonial period. Using tax revenue as a measure of state capacity, the data show that the structure and capacity of Native Authorities varied between and within colonies, based not only on underlying economic inequalities but also on the relationships between African elites and colonial governments.