This paper focuses on the role of colonial legacies in conditioning patterns of human capital development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It develops a theoretical link between the legacies of the colonial state, the breadth of post-colonial elite coalitions, and contemporary human capital development. We discuss this theory with reference to an original panel dataset from Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and Morocco on government health and education provision that documents then development of these services under colonial rule and the first decades after independence. In this chapter we contribute to the historical development literature by theorizing the moment of independence as a critical juncture that either locks in colonial legacies or entails a revolutionary break from the past, setting in motion a new pathway. We argue that levels of state capacity inherited from the colonial period and the politics of the governing coalition post-independence shaped local access to health and education facilities using both cross-national data as well as previously digitized sub-national census data from Tunisia.