Comparing British and French Colonial Legacies: A Discontinuity Analysis of Cameroon


Colonial institutions are thought to be an important determinate of post-independence levels of political stability, economic growth, and public goods provision. In particular, many scholars have suggested that British institutions and culture are more conducive to growth and poverty alleviation than those of France or other colonizers. Systematic tests of this hypothesis have plagued by unobserved heterogeneity among nations due to variable preand post-colonial histories. To deal with this problem, we focus on the West African nation of Cameroon, which includes regions colonized by both Britain and France. Taking advantage of the artificial nature of the former colonial boundary, we use it as a discontinuity within a national demographic survey. We show that rural areas on the British side of discontinuity have higher levels of wealth and local public provision of improved water sources. Results for urban areas and centrally-provided public goods show no such effect, suggesting that post-independence policies also play a role in shaping outcomes. We are grateful to Rachel Stein and Luke Condra for assistance with ArcGIS and to Claire Adida for assistance in translating the survey instrument.

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@inproceedings{Lee2009ComparingBA, title={Comparing British and French Colonial Legacies: A Discontinuity Analysis of Cameroon}, author={Alexander Lee and Kenneth A. Schultz and Rachel E. Stein and Luke Condra and Claire L. Adida}, year={2009} }