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Abstract:

Development Discussion Paper
The Legacy of Historical Conflict Evidence from Africa
Timothy Besley and Marta Reynal-Querol
February 2012
Paper No' EOPP 036:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: N47, O43, O55


Tags: conflict; trust; identity

There is a great deal of interest in the causes and consequences of conflict in Africa, one of the poorest areas of the world where only modest economic progress has been made. This paper asks whether post-colonial conflict is, at least in part, a legacy of historical conflict by examining the empirical relationship between conflict in Africa since independence with recorded conflicts in the period 1400 to1700. We find evidence of a legacy of historical conflicts using between-country and withincountry evidence. The latter is found by dividing the continent into 120km_120km grids and measuring the distance from 91 documented historical conflicts. We also provide evidence that historical conflict is correlated with lower levels of trust, a stronger sense of ethnic identity and a weaker sense of national identity.