The colonial legacy of African underdevelopment is widely debated but hard to document.We use occupational statistics from Protestant marriage registers of historical Kampala to investigatethe hypothesis that African gender inequality and female disempowerment are rooted in colonialtimes. We find that the arrival of Europeans in Uganda ignited a century- long transformation ofKampala involving a gender Kuznets curve. Men rapidly acquired literacy and quickly found theirway into white-collar (high-status) employment in the wage economy built by the Europeans. Womentook somewhat longer to obtain literacy and considerably longer to enter into white-collar and wagedwork. This led to increased gender inequality during the first half of the colonial period. But genderinequality gradually declined during the latter half of the colonial era, and after Uganda’sindependence in 1962 its level was not significantly different from that of pre-colonial times. Our datasupport Boserup’s view that gender inequality was rooted in native social norms: daughters of Africanmen who worked in the traditional, informal economy were less well educated, less frequentlyemployed in formal work, and more often subjected to marital gender inequality than daughters ofmen employed in the modernized, formal economy created by the Europeans.
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New Book: Agency, Gender and Economic Development in the World Economy 1850–2000
New GEHS book: Technology, Skills and the Pre-Modern Economy in the East and the West, editors Maarten Prak and Jan Luiten van Zanden
The Long Road to the Industrial Revolution available as print on demand paper back
Film impressions, Tine De Moor and Bas van Bavel of the CGEH explain the societal relevance of their research in short films