Economic history from below the tropics.

How unequal was the federation of French West Africa?

February 18, 2018

When the French parliament, including colonial representatives, was discussing the framework of a new relationship between French Africa and the metropole, a slight plaintive note could be detected in the contributions of the representatives of Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon. Respectively, these colonies were the largest economies of the federations of French West Africa (Afrique occidentale française, or AOF) and French Equatorial Africa (Afrique équatoriale française, or AEF). The white Ivorian planter Gaston Lagarosse said: ... Read more

Pinochet's inequality miracle

February 18, 2018

Economists don’t agree about the economics of dictatorships: some claim that the lack of checks on the executive and the widespread repression of political voice provide an institutional framework encouraging rent-seeking and stifling growth, whereas others think that it is precisely the lack of political accountability to the electorate that allows for economic policies that make technical sense and are conducive to growth but would not attain political consensus. Economic historians, whose job description allows them to focus on cases rather than on general rules, can point to examples supporting both theses (or neither). ... Read more

Tom Westland and Emiliano Travieso are PhD students in economic history at the University of Cambridge.