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Presented By: Department of Economics

Economic History: Colonial institutions, marriage markets, and Africa's HIV epidemic: Evidence from Mozambique.

Jon Denton-Schneider, University of Michigan (Economics, PhD)

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Three institutions organized much of colonial economic activity in sub-Saharan Africa: concessions of territory and population to companies, labor reserves providing nearby employers with male temporary workers, and colonial trade economies coercing peasants to produce agricultural exports. To make some of the first comparisons of these institutions’ short- and long-run impacts, I exploit an arbitrary concession-labor reserve border in Mozambique. The concession was Africa’s longest lasting (1891-1942) and heavily restricted mobility, while the labor reserve (1901-70s) was one of the most important, sending one third of its men annually to work in South Africa ("circular migrants"). Colonial census data show that men in the concession before its abolition were half as likely to be circular migrants and boys were twice as likely to enroll in school, but after it ended both outcomes converged. However, even after the concession’s abolition, marriage rates in the labor reserve were 10 to 25 percent higher and spousal age gaps may have been smaller. The likely explanation is the lasting social effects of nearly a century of circular migration. Consistent with the continuation of these patterns, women’s HIV prevalence today is twice as high in the former concession while levels of economic development are similar.

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April 13, 2021 (Tuesday) 2:30pm
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