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European Trade, Colonialism, and Human Capital Accumulation in Senegal, Gambia and Western Mali, 1770–1900

  • Gabriele Cappelli (a1) and Joerg Baten (a2)

We trace the development of human capital in today's Senegal, Gambia, and Western Mali between 1770 and 1900. European trade, slavery, and early colonialism were linked to human capital formation, but this connection appears to have been heterogeneous. The contact with the Atlantic slave trade increased regional divergence, as the coast of Senegambia developed more quickly than inner areas. This pattern was affected by French early colonialism and by the reaction of different West African populations to the economic incentives provided by foreign demand for agricultural products. The peanut trade since the mid-nineteenth century further amplified regional economic inequalities.

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We would like to express our gratitude to William Collins and two anonymous referees for invaluable comments on the manuscript. The article has greatly benefitted from remarks provided by Ewout Frankema and Gareth Austin on early drafts. We would like to acknowledge the precious help provided by numerous research assistants, especially Bastien Buchwalter, Jorge Luis Fernández González, and Nicole Püschel. Finally, we would like to thank the participants of the Research Seminar at the Chair of Economic History of the University of Tuebingen, the 2014 ClioInfra Workshop at the University of Barcelona, and the EHES Conference 2015 in Pisa for their criticism and suggestions. Our work has been supported by the NWO ClioInfra Project and the German Science Foundation cluster SFB 1070. Cappelli also acknowledges the support of the Spanish Government through the project HAR2016-76814-C2-1-P (AEI/FEDER, UE).

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