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African states and development in historical perspective: Colonial public finances in British and French West

Abstract : Why does it seem so difficultto build a sizeable developmenta state in Africa? Agrowing literature looks at the colonial roots of differences in economic development, often using the French/British difference as asource of variation to identify which features of the colonial pastmattered. We use historical archivestobuildanewdatasetofpublicfinancesin9Frenchand4Britishcoloniesof West Africa from 1900 to in dependence.Though we find some significant differences between French and British colonies, we conclude that over all patterns of public finances were similarin both empires. The most striking fact is the greatin crease in expenditure per capitain the last decades of colonization: it quadrupled between the end o World War II and independence. This increase inexpenditure was made possible partly by an increase incustoms revenue due to rising trade flows, but mostly by policy changes: netsubsidies from colonizers to their colonies became positive, while, within the colonies, direct and indirect taxation rates increased. We conclude that the last fifteen years of colonization area key period tounderstand colonial legacies.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01820209
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Submitted on : Thursday, June 21, 2018 - 1:12:09 PM
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Denis Cogneau, Yannick Dupraz, Sandrine Mesplé-Somps. African states and development in historical perspective: Colonial public finances in British and French West. 2018. ⟨halshs-01820209⟩

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