The Fletcher Development Seminar
“The Long Shadow of History: 19th Century Missionaries, Educational Mobility, and School Investments in Madagascar”
Monday, November 7
12:30pm – 1:45pm
Abstract: This paper contributes to a growing literature on the long-term impacts of missionary education in Africa. Using evidence from Madagascar, we document a strong association between missionary school provision in the late 19th century and current educational outcomes. This relationship appears to be unrelated to other unobserved locality characteristics and it works primarily through the uneven supply of private and faith-based schooling. In contrast, targeted investments in the public school network, initiated in the colonial and post-colonial period, largely succeeded in offsetting inequalities in the availability of state schools. As another contribution, this paper presents rare evidence about the intergenerational transmission of education in a sub-Saharan setting. While our data reveal very high degrees of intergenerational correlation in schooling within households for the entire population, we find higher rates of educational persistence among better-educated families in historically Christian areas. This finding supports the hypothesis that the household-specific transmission of human capital contributes to the long-term effects of past missionary school provision in sub-Saharan Africa.
Borge Wietzke lectures and teaches in the London School of Economics’ Masters of Public Administration program (MPA). He holds a PhD in International Development from the LSE. His current research focuses on historical origins of wellbeing inequality and uneven governance performance in sub-Saharan Africa. Borge’s other research interests include the design and political economy of poverty alleviation policies, the link between conflict and ethnic and religious fractionalization/polarization, and new quantitative approaches to the study of multidimensional wellbeing and opportunity inequality. Prior to researching his PhD, Borge worked for over four years as a governance and social protection advisor for the World Bank in Madagascar and Washington and has extensive consulting experience in South Asia and Central America. He was trained in Political Science and International Development at the Universities of Hamburg, Leipzig, and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques, Paris.