After the completion of a railway to the coast in the early 20th century, Uganda quickly emerged as a cotton and coffee exporting colony. Much of these agricultural exports were grown in smallholder fields, providing access to cash income to the majority of rural households. Nevertheless, Uganda has also seen the emergence substantial and impactful inequalities between regions, ethnic groups and races. During the colonial era, the northern regions were underserved in terms of jobs, education and medical facilities, contributing to post-colonial conflicts. In addition, colonial trading and industrial economy, and the skilled niches of the private and public labour market, were dominated by European and South Asian expatriates. In the post-colonial era, Gini-coefficients of between 0.37 and 0.54 for the economy as a whole have been measured, with an average of 0.43 and no clear trend over time (WIDER database). This project is the first to push back inequality estimate before 1970, and to use social tables to disentangle regional, racial and class dimensions.
De Haas, M. (2017). Measuring rural welfare in colonial Africa: did Uganda’s smallholders thrive? The Economic History Review, 70(2), 605-631.
De Haas, M., & Frankema, E. (2018). Gender, ethnicity, and unequal opportunity in colonial Uganda: European influences, African realities, and the pitfalls of parish register data. The Economic History Review, 71(3), 965-994.
De Haas, M. (Forthcoming). “Income inequality in a colonial cash crop economy: constructing ‘social tables’ for Uganda, 1925-1965”