Working papers available upon request.
Colonialism and its Legacies
The Colonial Struggle over Polygamy: Consequences for Educational Expansion in sub-Saharan Africa (accepted, Economic History of Developing Regions)
Research on colonial legacies mainly considers pre-colonial conditions for methodological reasons. Interactions between colonial interventions and local conditions are rarely considered. This paper studies the long-term effects of Christian missions in colonial Africa to demonstrate that such interactions can provide valuable insights. It argues that the colonial struggle over polygamy, which resulted from missionaries insistence on monogamy, lowered demand for education in polygamous societies. Analyses of geocoded data from historical and contemporary sources, covering most of sub-Saharan Africa, show that the struggle leads to differential educational outcomes to the present day. While colonial-era mission presence raises primary school completion and literacy rates in polygamous localities, by about 4 and 7 percentage points respectively, non-polygamous localities benefit almost twice as much. More attention to such interactions can advance our understanding of variations in colonial legacies and the role of local factors and responses.
License to Educate: The Role of National Networks in Colonial Empires
with Carina Schmitt
Colonial Africa was shaped by a variety of European actors. Of foremost importance in the educational sector were both colonial governments and Christian mission societies. While their activities and long-term implications are often analyzed in isolation, few systematic studies investigate relationships between them. However, it is well-known that underfunded colonial administrations supported mission societies, who used schools to attract new converts, as low-cost educational providers. In this paper, we argue that mission societies that shared national ties with colonial administrations benefited from increased support and engaged more extensive educational activities. Using new historical data on Protestant mission societies from the interwar period in Africa, we demonstrate that national alignment in British Africa is associated with more primary schools and higher enrollment. We discuss and explore potential channels underlying this dynamic, including financial support as well as the granting of access to more favorable locations. Our findings show that national networks are an important but understudied aspect of colonial empires. Furthermore, analyzing the early expansion of education allows us to close a gap in the causal chain that studies focusing on long-term effects assume.
The Colonial Labour Question: Trade and Social Policy in Interwar Africa
with Carina Schmitt
Social protection is a central instrument to fight poverty and inequality in the Global South. Today, almost all countries have at least some social protection schemes in place. In former colonies, the historical roots of these systems can often be traced back to colonial times. In this paper, we argue that spending on social services for the local population was seen as a necessary condition to expand the trade-based colonial economy from the interwar period onward. Using novel data on health and education expenditure in 36 former British and French African colonies during the height of their empires (1925-36), we show that trade volumes account for a large share in the variance of social expenditure. Our results suggest that similar mechanisms are at play within the two empires, and that differences between them are in degree rather than in kind.
State-Church Synergies in Colonial Empires: Longitudinal Evidence on Missionary Expansion in Africa
Christian missionaries played an essential role in the colonization of Africa, often entering territories before European powers officially claimed control. While interactions between governmental and religious actors and their long-term consequences have been subject to earlier studies, little is known about the temporal dynamics of colonization. This paper uses new historical data (1792-1924) to explore the timing of Protestant mission entries on the African continent as well as their geographic distribution. It is found that the establishment of a colonial state through a European power more than doubled the number of missions entering a territory. This effect is largely limited to missions from the colonizer's metropole. These aligned missions also became more likely to set up stations in more advantageous locations than their non-aligned counterparts. The findings attest to State-Church synergies in colonies and demonstrate the importance of national networks. These findings improve our understanding of how colonial empires expanded and have important implications for the study of colonial and missionary legacies of contemporary outcomes. Future research avenues are discussed.