Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 7 > Issue 4

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

Alexander Lee, Department of Political Science, Stanford University, USA, amlee@stanford.edu , Kenneth A. Schultz, Department of Political Science, Stanford University, USA, kschultz@stanford.edu
Suggested Citation
Alexander Lee and Kenneth A. Schultz (2012), "Comparing British and French Colonial Legacies: A Discontinuity Analysis of Cameroon", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 7: No. 4, pp 365-410. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00011022

Publication Date: 17 Oct 2012
© 2012 A. Lee and K. A. Schultz
Comparative politics,  Political history,  Democratization


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In this article:
Previous Literature 
The Case of Cameroon 
Research Design and Data 
Mechanisms and Alternative Explanations 


Colonial institutions are thought to be an important determinates of post-independence levels of political stability, economic growth, and public goods provision. In particular, many scholars have suggested that British institutional and cultural legacies are more conducive to growth than those of France or other colonizers. Systematic tests of this hypothesis are complicated by unobserved heterogeneity among nations due to variable pre- and post-colonial histories. We focus on the West African nation of Cameroon, which includes regions colonized by both Britain and France, and use the artificial former colonial boundary 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 piped water. 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. Though our ability to identify causal mechanisms is limited, the evidence suggests that communities on the British side benefited from a policy of indirect rule and lack of forced labor, which produced more vigorous local institutions.