Interesting new paper by Jose de Sousa and Julie Lochard in the Journal of African Economies (ungated version here). From the abstract (emphasis is mine):

Does colonisation explain differences in trade performance across developing countries? In this paper, we analyse the differential impact of British versus French colonial legacies on the current trade of African ex-colonies. We initially find that former British colonies trade more, on average, than do their French counterparts. This difference might be the result of the relative superiority of British institutions. However, a core concern is the non-random selection of colonies by the British. Historians argue that with Britain, trade preceded colonisation. Using an instrument based on colonisation history to control for this endogeneity, we find no evidence of a systematic difference between the British and French colonial legacies with respect to trade. This finding suggests that the apparent better performance of British ex-colonies might be instead explained by pre-colonial conditions.

A couple of years ago I wanted to write a paper on African pre-colonial economies so I read everything I could on the topic. I never wrote that paper (I couldn’t get the data I was looking for) but if you are interested, I have a few “must reads”:

Are there other studies I “must” include in this list?