June 15, 2020
Written by WID.world

Post-colonial Trends of Income Inequality

Post-colonial Trends of Income Inequality: Evidence from the Overseas Departments of France

In this paper, Yajna Govind analyzes the post-colonial trends of income inequality in four French ex-colonies, now overseas departments of France: La Réunion, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guyane. Drawing on a new income tax dataset put together, she studies the evolution of income inequality since their decolonization in 1946 until recent years. This study sheds light on an under-studied post-colonial context which is that of territories which have been assimilated by their ex-colonizers rather than independent states and its implication in the contemporary period.

Key results

  • The overseas departments have witnessed a rapid decline in inequality since their decolonization and a relative stabilization of the level of inequality in the recent decade.
  • Despite the general catch-up, the top 10% income share remained consistently higher than in the metropolis.
  • In terms of labor income, there exists a public-private sector polarization, peculiar to these territories.
  • There are underlying cleavages between the metropolitans and natives.

>> Click here to read the paper

Recommendations to tackle post-colonial trends of income inequality

– There is an increasing need for better and more accessible data on the economic situation of households in these territories.
– The specificities of these territories must be taken into account when implementing public policies, for instance the employment of the natives in the public sector through a system quota and a revision of the public sector premium.


This figure shows the top 1% income shares in the overseas departments in comparison to France

Income inequality in post colonial territories - World Inequality Lab


Yajna Govind (EHESS, PSE), Yajna.govind@gmail.com

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Olivia Ronsain: olivia.ronsain@wid.world; +33 7 63 91 81 68