The Impact of Colonial Heritage on Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Human Development, Human Condition, Economic Gain, Improve Condition, Colonial Rule

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The study explores the hypothesis of a relationshipbetween colonial heritage and development insub-Saharan Africa. Seventeen countries thatexperienced indirect colonial rule and an equal numberwith a history of direct rule in the region areexamined. Development is defined first, in terms ofhuman development [as per UNDP’s Human DevelopmentIndex (HDI)], and then, as the ability of a country totranslate economic gains into improved livingconditions (defined as the difference between acountry’s real GDP per capita ranking minus its HDIranking). A relationship is found between colonialheritage and human development but not betweencolonial heritage and the ability to translateeconomic gains into improved conditions. It isconcluded that the difference in human conditions ismore a function of inter-country variabilities inindividual and local autonomy than by state actionsspecifically aimed at improving these conditions.

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Social Indicators Research, v. 52, issue 2, p. 161-178