Colonial legacy, state-building and the salience of ethnicity in sub-Saharan Africa

Merima Ali, Odd Helge Fjeldstad, Boqian Jiang, Abdulaziz B. Shifa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


African colonial history suggests that British colonial rule may have undermined state centralisation due to legacies of ethnic segregation and stronger executive constraints. Using micro-data from anglophone and francophone countries in sub-Saharan Africa, we find that anglophone citizens are less likely to identify themselves in national terms (relative to ethnic terms). To address endo-geneity concerns, we utilise regression discontinuity by focusing on observations near anglophone– francophone borders, both across countries and within Cameroon. Evidence on taxation, security and the power of chiefs also suggests weaker state capacity in anglophone countries. These results highlight the legacy of colonial rule on state-building.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1048-1081
Number of pages34
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number619
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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