CEEG Seminar Series: The legacy of coercive cotton cultivation in colonial Mozambique

On Thursday, 18 March 2024, Henrique Barros, Predoctoral Trainee in Economics at Brown University, will present a recent WIDER Working Paper entitled ‘The legacy of coercive cotton cultivation in colonial Mozambique’ (WIDER Working Paper 12/2024).

The seminar is part of the CEEG Seminar Series, organized under the Inclusive growth in Mozambique (IGM) programme. The seminars offer a forum to share and discuss ongoing research on topics related to the work of the IGM programme and to foster a culture of research at the faculty and at UEM in general.

The seminars take place at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Eduardo Mondlane (UEM). They are public events open to everyone. The presentation will be given in Portuguese.

Register here

About the study

The paper examines the long-term impact of forced labor on individual risk preferences and economic decisions. For that, the focus of the study was on a policy of coercive cotton cultivation enforced in colonial Mozambique between 1926 and 1961. The study combined archival sources about the boundaries of historical cotton concessions with survey data collection specifically for the study. By employing a regression discontinuity design to compare individuals living in areas inside and outside the historical cotton concessions, the study documented significant disparities in the preference for certainty and agricultural patterns between communities. The findings indicate that individuals from regions unsuitable for cotton production, yet subjected to the colonial cotton regime, exhibit higher preference for certainty, are more likely to engage in farming, sell their agricultural produce, adopt technology, and save. These findings are predominantly driven by individuals who recall the coercive cotton cultivation in their communities, particularly women who bore the brunt of the colonial cotton regime.

This paper underscores the enduring impact of colonial agricultural policies on risk and economic behavior, providing insights into the challenges post-colonial societies face in overcoming historical legacies.