Michiel de Haas

Assistant Professor, Wageningen University

[email protected]

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Research interests: Long-run changes in living standards

I study social and economic transformations in African societies in the nineteenth and twentieth century. I have published on various themes, including agricultural production and trade, gendered access to education, long-run inequality and migration. Most of my work focuses on the Great Lakes Region during the colonial era, Uganda in particular.

Case Study


Michiel de Haas

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.