Once Upon a Time in Anatolia: The Long Run Development Effects of American Missions in Anatolia

Yaşar Ersan and İlhan Can Özen

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The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) had a significant foothold in the Anatolian geography for the majority of the early 19th century, through their sizeable human capital intervention. Through an extensive archival work, we study the impact of human capital intervention on development outcomes. Using the spatial variation in the built and functional mission stations, we find areas closer to ABCFM missions have presently higher income by 5%-17%, and higher general development index by 0.07-0.12 standard deviation in 10 km proximity. We identify the mission impact by exploiting a placebo set from the group that was conceived but not carried out, and also an exogenous re-partition of the working region as an instrumental variable strategy. The underlying mechanisms are labor productivity in the agriculture sector, which allows for greater skill differentiation and structural transformation. Gender roles in education are also significantly transformed.