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The Economics of Missionary Expansion:Evidence from Africa and Implications for Development

Remi Jedwab (), Felix Meier zu Selhausen () and Alexander Moradi ()
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Alexander Moradi: Free University of Bolzano‐Bozen, Faculty of Economics and Management

No BEMPS78, BEMPS - Bozen Economics & Management Paper Series from Faculty of Economics and Management at the Free University of Bozen

Abstract: How did Christianity expand in Africa to become the continent’s dominant religion? Using annual panel census data on Christian missions from 1751 to 1932 in Ghana, and pre-1924 data on missions for 43 sub-Saharan African countries, we estimate causal effects of malaria, railroads and cash crops on mission location. We find that missions were established in healthier, more accessible, and richer places before expanding to economically less developed places. We argue that the endogeneity of missionary expansion may have been underestimated, thus questioning the link between missions and economic development for Africa. We find the endogeneity problem exacerbated when mission data is sourced from Christian missionary atlases that disproportionately report a selection of prominent missions that were also established early.

Keywords: Economics of Religion; Religious Diffusion; Human Capital; Economic Persistence; Measurement; Historical Data; Atlases; Missions; Christianity; Africa (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I20 N30 O10 O40 Z12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: [72 pages]
Date: 2021-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-dev, nep-his and nep-isf
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Related works:
Working Paper: The Economics of Missionary Expansion: Evidence from Africa and Implications for Development (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: The Economics of Missionary Expansion: Evidence from Africa and Implications for Development (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: The Economics of Missionary Expansion: Evidence from Africa and Implications for Development (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: The Economics of Missionary Expansion: Evidence from Africa and Implications for Development (2018) Downloads
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