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French and British Colonial Legacies in Education: Evidence from the Partition of Cameroon

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 September 2019

Yannick Dupraz*
Yannick Dupraz is CAGE Research Fellow at the University of Warwick. Social Science Building, Department of Economics, CV47AL, Coventry, United Kingdom. E-mail:


Cameroon was partitioned between France and the United Kingdom after WWI and then reunited after independence. I use this natural experiment to investigate colonial legacies in education, using a border discontinuity analysis of historical census microdata from 1976. I find that men born in the decades following partition had, all else equal, one more year of schooling if they were born in the British part. This positive British effect disappeared after 1950, as the French increased education expenditure, and because of favoritism in school supply towards the Francophone side after reunification. Using 2005 census microdata, I find that the British advantage resurfaced more recently: Cameroonians born after 1970 are more likely to finish high school, attend a university, and have a high-skilled occupation if they were born in the former British part. I explain this result by the legacy of high grade repetition rates in the French-speaking education system and their detrimental effect on dropout.

© The Economic History Association 2019 

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I conducted part of this research as a Ph.D. candidate at Paris School of Economics with funding from the French Ministry of Research and Higher Education and the Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (Afristory project). I also benefitted from a one-year scholarship from Aix-Marseille School of Economics. I want to thank Pierre André, Gareth Austin, Yasmine Bekkouche, Asma Benhenda, Denis Cogneau, Emma Duchini, Esther Duflo, Andy Ferrara, James Fenske, Ewout Frankema, Leigh Gardner, Kenneth Houngbedji, Elise Huillery, Martin Mba, Alexander Moradi, Samuel Nouetagni, Anne-Sophie Robillard, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, Léa Rouanet, Seyhun Orcan Sakalli, Jacob Tatsitsa, Joseph-Pierre Timnou, Lara Tobin, Katia Zhuravskaya, and the participants of seminars at Paris School of Economics, Utrecht University, London School of Economics and Aix-Marseille School of Economics. I also want to thank two anonymous referees for their useful suggestions.


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