CRED International Conference

20 & 21 November 2023

A 2-day international conference

The programme is available!

Registration is open!


Institutions, Culture and Long-Term Development: Lessons from sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is a goldmine for social science researchers interested in development and change issues, particularly in the role of institutions and culture. This region has long been inhabited by heterogeneous cultures and ruled by institutions quite distinct from those in Europe and Asia. This is particularly evident when considering the variety and specificities of family structures, gender relations or belief systems. Sub-Saharan Africa's exposure to brutal external shocks in the form of colonization and missionary presence, enduring resource curse and conflicts, and a relatively quick path to national independence within exogenously drawn borders confronted — and still confronts it — with more radical challenges than ever faced by any other continent. 

Map of colonial AfricaToday, Sub-Saharan Africa presents a contrasting picture. On the one hand, the region witnessed rapid changes in technology, cultural traits, behaviors or political systems (think of the individualization of land tenure for example). On the other hand, evolution has been slow in some domains of people’s social, economic and political life (this is especially true of gender-based practices such as women’s inheritance, female genital cutting and domestic violence).

Are rapid changes promoting inclusive economic development? Are persistent features retarding it? Can we expect these institutions to endogenously evolve or are there promising policy leverages? These questions are of considerable interest and great complexity.

By gathering a sizeable group of outstanding researchers from economics and other social sciences and by allowing a wide diversity of approaches to institutional and cultural issues, this conference aims to take stock of our present-day frontier knowledge of institutional change and stagnation in a continent where the incidence of poverty is the highest across the world and where women are particularly vulnerable.


African Women ERC-STG has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 759294.


Illustration: Map from the Collections of the African Museum in Namur, Belgium.