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Climate shocks, cash crops and resilience : Evidence from colonial tropical Africa

Papaioannou, Kostadis LU and de Haas, Michiel (2015) In CGEH Working Paper Series
Abstract
A rapidly growing body of research examines how weather variability, anomalies and shocks influence economic and societal outcomes. This study investigates the effects of weather shocks on African smallholder farmers in British colonial Africa and intervenes in the debate on the mediating effect of cash crops on resilience to shocks. We employ a dual research strategy, involving both qualitative and econometric analysis. We analyse original primary evidence retrieved from annual administrative records and construct a panel dataset of 151 districts across West, South-central and East Africa in the Interwar Era (1920-1939). Our findings are twofold. First, we qualitatively expose a range of mechanisms leading from drought and excessive... (More)
A rapidly growing body of research examines how weather variability, anomalies and shocks influence economic and societal outcomes. This study investigates the effects of weather shocks on African smallholder farmers in British colonial Africa and intervenes in the debate on the mediating effect of cash crops on resilience to shocks. We employ a dual research strategy, involving both qualitative and econometric analysis. We analyse original primary evidence retrieved from annual administrative records and construct a panel dataset of 151 districts across West, South-central and East Africa in the Interwar Era (1920-1939). Our findings are twofold. First, we qualitatively expose a range of mechanisms leading from drought and excessive rainfall to harvest failure and social upheaval. We then test the link econometrically and find a robust U-shaped relation between rainfall deviation and social upheaval, proxied by annual imprisonment. Second, we review a long-standing and unsettled debate on the impact of cash crop cultivation on farmers’ resilience to environmental shocks and find that cash crop districts experienced lower levels of social tension and distress in years of extreme rainfall variability. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
publishing date
type
Working Paper
publication status
published
subject
keywords
environmental and economic history, Africa, colonialism, tropical agriculture, social upheaval, N17, N57, Q17, F54, D74
in
CGEH Working Paper Series
issue
76
pages
55 pages
publisher
Centre for Global Economic History
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
a10c37f0-a603-42d2-9ef7-b5e3e88170b0
alternative location
http://www.cgeh.nl/climate-shocks-cash-crops-and-resilience-evidence-colonial-tropical-africa
date added to LUP
2017-09-28 17:54:50
date last changed
2017-10-02 10:21:56
@misc{a10c37f0-a603-42d2-9ef7-b5e3e88170b0,
  abstract     = {A rapidly growing body of research examines how weather variability, anomalies and shocks influence economic and societal outcomes. This study investigates the effects of weather shocks on African smallholder farmers in British colonial Africa and intervenes in the debate on the mediating effect of cash crops on resilience to shocks. We employ a dual research strategy, involving both qualitative and econometric analysis. We analyse original primary evidence retrieved from annual administrative records and construct a panel dataset of 151 districts across West, South-central and East Africa in the Interwar Era (1920-1939). Our findings are twofold. First, we qualitatively expose a range of mechanisms leading from drought and excessive rainfall to harvest failure and social upheaval. We then test the link econometrically and find a robust U-shaped relation between rainfall deviation and social upheaval, proxied by annual imprisonment. Second, we review a long-standing and unsettled debate on the impact of cash crop cultivation on farmers’ resilience to environmental shocks and find that cash crop districts experienced lower levels of social tension and distress in years of extreme rainfall variability.},
  author       = {Papaioannou, Kostadis and de Haas, Michiel},
  keyword      = {environmental and economic history,Africa,colonialism,tropical agriculture,social upheaval,N17,N57,Q17,F54,D74},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Working Paper},
  number       = {76},
  pages        = {55},
  publisher    = {Centre for Global Economic History},
  series       = {CGEH Working Paper Series},
  title        = {Climate shocks, cash crops and resilience : Evidence from colonial tropical Africa},
  year         = {2015},
}