Convict Labor and the Costs of Colonial Infrastructure: Evidence from Prisons in British Nigeria, 1920-1938
59 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 28, 2019
This paper studies the role of labor coercion in fiscal capacity building in Nigeria during the colonial era. We estimate the value gained from labor coercion and compare this to other colonial expenditure using evidence from British colonial Nigeria. We use datasets on wages and prisoners from 1920 through 1938 to examine the evolution of value gained from labor coercion during the period. Our results show that coerced convict labor made up a significant part of colonial expenditures. The results provide new insights on the costs of colonial infrastructure and the effects of the colonial revenue imperative on African populations.
Keywords: Convict Labor, Colonial Revenue and Expenditure, Taxation, Forced Labor, Labor Coercion, Prisons, Public Works, Nigeria, Africa
JEL Classification: H2, J47, O10, O43, N37
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