Comparisons of British and French colonialism in Africa have typically examined institutions (e.g., directness of rule, forced labor, conscription) or the effect of those institutions on postindependence political reforms and development. Instead, this article focuses on colonial public investments in health and education in East and West Africa. I find that such investments are better predictors of today's development in Francophone than in Anglophone Africa. Why? While more political instability should decrease persistence, I find — contrary to what might be expected — that Anglophone and Francophone countries have been equally unstable since independence, as proxied by their number of coups, government turnovers, and constitutions. Instead, I suggest that the higher economic growth of Anglophone Africa compared to Francophone Africa in recent decades erodes the persistence of colonial investments.
Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 4 Special Issue - Historical Persistence, Part I: Articles Overview
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.