Postage stamps and economic development

Economist Michael Kevane is one of my favorite people. He loves reading, and thinks libraries are important in Africa, so he started some. He loves Sudan, and thinks that understanding it is important, so he started a website.

Michael also loves postage stamps, and so he decided to write about them… in a development paper.

An analysis of the imagery on postage stamps suggests that regimes in Sudan and Burkina Faso have pursued very different strategies in representing the nation. Sudan’s stamps focus on the political center and dominant elite (current regime, Khartoum politicians, and Arab and Islamic identity) while Burkina Faso’s stamps focus on society (artists, multiple ethnic groups, and development). Sudan’s stamps build an image of the nation as being about the northern-dominated regime in Khartoum (whether military or parliamentary); Burkina Faso’s stamps project an image of the nation as multi-ethnic and development-oriented.

The full article is here. If I understand correctly, Michael thinks that postage stamps may be an indicator of regime type and culture–a new form of measurement.

Somewhere Michael even has a cross-country regression relating postage stamps to development. He presented it at a conference. I loved it. Michael, if you are reading this, where is that lovely graph?

I was alerted to the paper by one of my other favorite people, who conveniently finds us a couple of sample stamps.

3 thoughts on “Postage stamps and economic development

  1. Chris, I went to grad school with Michael Kevane and he is one of my favorite people as well. I wish more development economists were like him. In fact, I wish I was more like him.

  2. CEGA’s faculty affiliates use two powerful techniques—rigorous evaluation and economic analysis—to measure the impacts of large-scale social and economic development projects.

  3. CEGA’s faculty affiliates use two powerful techniques—rigorous evaluation and economic analysis—to measure the impacts of large-scale social and economic development projects.