Project Die langfristige Entwicklung von numerischen Fähigkeiten in Afrika und dem Nahen Osten, 1700 bis 1970: Wie…

Basic data

Title:
Die langfristige Entwicklung von numerischen Fähigkeiten in Afrika und dem Nahen Osten, 1700 bis 1970: Wie substantiell war der Einfluss des Kolonialismus?
Duration:
13/04/2018 to 30/09/2020
Abstract / short description:
On the one hand, the Middle East and Africa are crucial world regions from a European perspective: Trade, migration, the exchange of ideas but also wars and colonial activities characterized the relationship. On the other hand, in economic history research, considerably less is known about these two world regions compared to other world regions such as the Americas, or East Asia. One of the most important variables for economic development is education, and the component of numeracy in particular, which is the focus of this project. We define numeracy here as the capability to carry out basic calculations. How can we gain insights into the development of numeracy in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as North Africa and the Middle East? Recent case studies have shown that the age statements of Africans (Baten and Fourie 2014, Austin 2016) and populations from the Ottoman Empire (Ghanem 2015, Heyberger and Baten 2017) can yield insights into the development of basic numeracy since the eighteenth century. The idea is to use sources that allow calculating the share of people who are able to declare their exact age rather than a rounded age, as an indicator of numeracy. While many methodological challenges exist, the expected value added for our understanding of global development and underdevelopment is large (on the methodological approach, see below).
Indeed, Hanushek and Woessmann (2012) have argued that math and science abilities are the most crucial determinants of economic growth across countries, hence understanding their formation in the long run is important to shed light on a region’s development.
This project will fill this gap, by exploring existent and new sources in order to reconstruct trends of numeracy across African and Middle Eastern countries between c. 1700 and 1970. This period was chosen because firstly data is available and secondly there is a substantial change between different colonial government systems and independent governments. Hence, the two main aims are to (1) reconstruct numeracy trends for a substantial number of countries and (2) assess the effect of colonialism, which is one important aspect of the joint history between Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

Involved staff

Managers

Department of Economics
Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences

Local organizational units

Department of Economics
Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences
University of Tübingen

Funders

Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
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