The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Scramble For Africa And Its Legacy

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95189-5_3041

Abstract

The Scramble for Africa refers to the period between roughly 1884 and 1914, when the European colonisers partitioned the – up to that point – largely unexplored African continent into protectorates, colonies and ‘free-trade areas’. At the time the colonisers had limited knowledge of local conditions and their primary consideration was to avoid conflict among themselves for African soil. Since no one could foresee the short-lived colonial era, the border design – which endured the wave of independence in the 1960s – had sizable long-lasting economic and political consequences. First, the ancestral homelands of about one-third of African ethnicities straddle contemporary international borders. The resulting ethnic partitioning has contributed to civil conflict by fostering ethnic-based discrimination and by allowing countries to destabilise their neighbours. Second, in Africa we observe the largest share of landlocked countries, which tend to trade less with the rest of the world and are readily affected by developments in adjacent politically unstable countries. Third, the Scramble for Africa resulted in several large countries characterised by highly heterogeneous geography and ethnically fragmented populations that limit the ability of governments to broadcast power and build state capacity.

Keywords

Africa Borders Conflict Development Ethnicities 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access

Bibliography

  1. Acemoglu, D., and J.A. Robinson. 2012. Why nations fail: The origins of power, prosperity, and poverty. New York: Crown Publishers.Google Scholar
  2. Acemoglu, D., S. Johnson, and J.A. Robinson. 2001. The colonial origins of comparative development: An empirical investigation. American Economic Review 91(5): 1369–1401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Acemoglu, D., T. Reed, and J.A. Robinson. 2014. Chiefs: Economic development and elite control of civil society in Sierra Leone. Journal of Political Economy 122(2): 319–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alesina, A., and E. Zhuravskaya. 2011. Segregation and the quality of government in a cross-section of countries. American Economic Review 101(6): 1872–1911.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alesina, A., W. Easterly, and J. Matuszeski. 2011. Artificial states. Journal of the European Economic Association 9(2): 246–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Alesina, A., S. Michalopoulos, and E. Papaioannou. 2016. Ethnic inequality. Journal of Political Economy 124(2): 428–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Asiwaju, A.I. 1985. Partitioned Africans. The conceptual framework. New York: St Martin Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bates, R.H. 1981. States and markets in Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  9. Besley, T., and T. Persson. 2011a. The logic of political violence. Quarterly Journal of Economics 126(3): 1411–1445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Besley, T., and T. Persson. 2011b. Pillars of prosperity: The political economics of development clusters. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Besley, T., and M. Reynal-Querol. 2014. The legacy of historical conflict: Evidence from Africa. American Political Science Review 108(2): 319–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Collier, P. 2007. The bottom billion: Why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done about it. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Diamond, J. 1997. Guns, germs, and steel: The fates of human societies. New York: WW Norton and Co.Google Scholar
  14. Djankov, S. and M. Reynal-Querrol. 2010. The causes of civil wars. Mimeo UPF.Google Scholar
  15. Dowden, R. 2008. Africa: Altered states, ordinary miracles. London: Portobello Books.Google Scholar
  16. Easterly, W. and R. Levine. 2016. The European origins of economic development. NBER Working paper 18162.Google Scholar
  17. Esteban, J., L. Mayoral, and D. Ray. 2012. Ethnicity and conflict: An empirical study. American Economic Review 102(4): 1310–1342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gennaioli, N., and I. Rainer. 2006. Precolonial centralization and institutional quality in Africa. In Institutions and norms in economic development, ed. M. Gradstein and K. Konrad, 21–46. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gennaioli, N., and I. Rainer. 2007. The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa. Journal of Economic Growth 12(3): 185–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Herbst, J. 2000. States and power in africa. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Horowitz, D.L. 1985. Ethnic groups in conflict. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  22. Huber, J. D. and L. Mayoral. 2014. Inequality, ethnicity and civil conflict. Working Paper, Columbia: Department of Political Science.Google Scholar
  23. Huillery, E. 2009. History matters: The long-term impact of colonial public investments in French West Africa. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 1(2): 176–215.Google Scholar
  24. Landes, D.S. 1998. The wealth and poverty of nations: Why some are so rich and some so poor. New York: WW Norton.Google Scholar
  25. Michalopoulos, S., and E. Papaioannou. 2013. Pre-colonial ethnic institutions and contemporary African development. Econometrica 81(1): 113–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Michalopoulos, S., and E. Papaioannou. 2014. National institutions and subnational development in Africa. Quarterly Journal of Economics 129(1): 151–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Michalopoulos, S., and E. Papaioannou. 2015. On the ethnic origins of African development: Traditional chiefs and pre-colonial political centralization. Academy of Management Perspectives 29(1): 32–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Michalopoulos, S., and E. Papaioannou. 2016. The long-run effects of the scramble for Africa. American Economic Review 106(7): 1802–1848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Michalopoulos, S. and E. Papaioannou. 2017. Historical legacies and African development. Journal of Economic Literature, in preparation.Google Scholar
  30. Murdock, G.P. 1959. Africa: Its peoples and their culture history. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  31. Murdock, G.P. 1967. Ethnographic atlas: A summary. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  32. Nunn, N. 2008. The long term effects of Africa’s slave trades. Quarterly Journal of Economics 123(1): 139–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nunn, N., and L. Wantchekon. 2011. The slave trade and the origins of mistrust in Africa. American Economic Review 101(7): 3221–3252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pakenham, T. 1991. The scramble for Africa. London: Abacus.Google Scholar
  35. Posner, D.N. 2005. Institutions and ethnic politics in Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wantchekon L. and O. Garcia-Ponce. 2014. Critical junctures: Independence movements and democracy in Africa. Working paper, Princeton University.Google Scholar
  37. Wesseling, H.L. 1996. Divide and rule: The partition of Africa, 1880–1914. Amsterdam: Praeger.Google Scholar
  38. Wimmer, A., L.-E. Cederman, and B. Min. 2009. Ethnic politics and armed conflict. A configurational analysis of a new global dataset. American Sociological Review 74(2): 316–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.