Discussion paper

DP14198 African institutions under colonial rule

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.


Bolt, J and L Gardner (2019), ‘DP14198 African institutions under colonial rule‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 14198. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp14198