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Borders That Divide: Education and Religion in Ghana and Togo Since Colonial Times

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 August 2014

Denis Cogneau
Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor, Paris School of Economics - IRD, 48 bd Jourdan, 75014, Paris, France . E-mail:
Alexander Moradi
Lecturer in Economics, Department of Economics, University of Sussex, Arts E511, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9SN, United Kingdom. Research Associate, Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602, Stellenbosch, South Africa. E-mail:


The partition of German Togoland after World War I provides a natural experiment to test the impact of British and French colonization. Using data of recruits to the Ghanaian colonial army 1908–1955, we find that literacy and religious affiliation diverge at the border between the parts of Togoland under British and French control as early as in the 1920s. We partly attribute this to policies towards missionary schools. The divergence is only visible in the South where educational and evangelization efforts were strong. Contemporary survey data show that border effects that began in colonial times still persist today.

Copyright © The Economic History Association 2014 

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We are grateful to the General Headquarters of the Ghana Armed Forces, Personnel and Administration and Director and Staff, Military Records for granting us access to records of the Gold Coast Regiment. We thank Moses Awoonor-Williams, Namawu Alhassan, and Joana Acquah for excellent research assistance in Ghana. Invaluable support came from the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, particularly Francis Teal. Data collection was funded by a British Academy Small Research Grant (SG-45045). We furthermore gratefully acknowledge the financial support of ESRC First Grant (RES-061-25-0456), and Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS).

Earlier versions of this article were presented at seminars in the Paris School of Economics and University of Sussex, at the African Economic History Workshop 2011 (Geneva), at the European Development Network 2011 meeting (Paris), and at the World Economic History Congress 2012 (Stellenbosch). We wish to thank their participants for useful comments, in particular Gareth Austin, Guilhem Cassan, Ewout Frankema, Rémi Jedwab, and Peter Lindert, as well as the editor of this JOURNAL, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, and three anonymous referees. Discussions with Yannick Dupraz were invaluable, in particular on the comparison case of Cameroon. The usual disclaimer applies.



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