Dr Rebecca Simson

Rebecca is a departmental lecturer in economic and social history. Her research focuses on the history and economic development of postcolonial Africa. She has written on the history of public sector employment in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, ethnic and regional inequalities in education and employment provision and inequality dynamics in developing regions. Her research has been published in journals such as the Economic History Review, African Affairs, Journal of Modern African Studies, and Economic History of Developing Regions.

Her ongoing research on wealth and elites includes work on Sierra Leone, which uses name analysis to examine how descendants of colonial-era elites (settlers and chiefs) fared into the postcolonial era, revealing how social reproduction in the Sierra Leonean context is strongly differentiated across different communities. In work on wealth inequality in Kenya and South Africa, she is using sources on estates under probate or administration to study the changing characteristics of wealth-holders over time.

She is also developing a new research project on Africa’s economic depression of the 1980s and 1990s. It will explore the causes and consequences of this major economic reversal and debt crisis, and link it to theories about the continent’s long-run growth path.