AidData Working Paper

Lighting the Path: The Influence of Historical Christian Missions on Modern-day Development Aid Allocation in Africa

Date Published

Oct 26, 2017

Authors

Matteo Alpino, Eivind M. Hammersmark

Publisher

Citation

Alpino, Matteo, and Eivind M. Hammersmark. 2017. Lighting the Path: The Influence of Historical Christian Missions on Modern-day Development Aid Allocation in Africa. AidData Working Paper #47. Williamsburg, VA: AidData. Accessed at: http://aiddata.org/working-papers.

AidData Working Paper

Lighting the Path: The Influence of Historical Christian Missions on Modern-day Development Aid Allocation in Africa

Date Published

Oct 26, 2017

Authors

Matteo Alpino, Eivind M. Hammersmark

Citation

Alpino, Matteo, and Eivind M. Hammersmark. 2017. Lighting the Path: The Influence of Historical Christian Missions on Modern-day Development Aid Allocation in Africa. AidData Working Paper #47. Williamsburg, VA: AidData. Accessed at: http://aiddata.org/working-papers.

Recent studies suggest that development aid is not always directed towards the poorest areas within countries, contrary to what we would expect if the objective is to end poverty. In this paper we document a positive correlation between the location of historical Christian missions and the within-country allocation of World Bank and Chinese financed development projects in Africa. The correlation is conditioned on observable geographical and historical factors that have shaped missionaries’ settlement decisions. Christian missions often included health and education facilities, and we consider them to be ancestors of modern micro-development projects. We interpret our finding as evidence of historical path dependence in the spatial distribution of aid, which can be rationalized by assuming decreasing unit cost of implementing aid at the local level. We do not find evidence that the results are driven by donor preference for Christian or Westernized areas.