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Article

Colonization and development: the long-term effect of Russian settlement in the North Caucasus, 1890-2000s

Journal of Comparative Economics. 2015. Vol. 43. No. 1. P. 76-97.

This paper exploits differences in the proportion of Russian settlers in the North Caucasus in the nineteenth century to estimate the effect of colonization on long-term development. The identification strategy relies on the fact that the primary purpose of Russian colonization was to protect the country’s access to warm-water ports. Therefore, settlement varied depending on the proximity to the Black Sea coast. Instrumenting the share of settlers by the distance to the coast, I show the positive impact of settlement on literacy among the indigenous population with long-term effects on income, educational attainment and the quality of local governance. To insure the validity of the instrument, I conduct a placebo test that shows that distance to the coast does not predict literacy and income in the South Caucasus, where Russians had no strategic interest in protecting the coastline. The mechanisms of influence include administrative integration, school building policies and social structure.