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Good, Bad, and Ugly Colonial Activities: Do They Matter for Economic Development?

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  • Miriam Bruhn

    (World Bank)

  • Francisco A. Gallego

    (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)

Abstract

Levels of development vary widely within countries in the Americas. We argue that part of this variation has its roots in the colonial era, when colonizers engaged in different economic activities in different regions of a country. We present evidence consistent with the view that “bad” activities (those that depended heavily on labor exploitation) led to lower economic development today than “good” activities (those that did not rely on labor exploitation). Our results also suggest that differences in political representation (but not in income inequality or human capital) could be the intermediating factor between colonial activities and current development. © 2012 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 94 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 433-461

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:94:y:2012:i:2:p:433-461

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Keywords: colonial era; labor exploitation; economic development;

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Cited by:
  1. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2009. "Five Centuries of Latin American Inequality," NBER Working Papers 15305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Axel Dreher & Matthew Gould & Matthew Rablen & James Vreeland, 2014. "The determinants of election to the United Nations Security Council," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 158(1), pages 51-83, January.
  3. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay and Elliott Green, 2012. "Pre-Colonial Political Centralization and Contemporary Development in Uganda," Working Papers, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research 39, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
  4. Nunn, Nathan, 2014. "Historical Development," Handbook of Economic Growth, Elsevier, in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 347-402 Elsevier.
  5. Álvaro Aguirre, 2013. "Rebellions, Technical Change, and the Early Development of Political Institutions in Latin America," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile, Central Bank of Chile 688, Central Bank of Chile.
  6. Aldo Musacchio & André Carlos Martínez Fritscher & Martina Viarengo, 2010. "Colonial Institutions, Trade Shocks, and the Diffusion of Elementary Education in Brazil, 1889-1930," Harvard Business School Working Papers, Harvard Business School 10-075, Harvard Business School, revised Dec 2012.
  7. Rodrigo Cerda, 2009. "The Impact of Government Spending on the Duration and the Intensity of Economic Crises: Latin America 1900-2000," Working Papers ClioLab, EH Clio Lab. Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile 1, EH Clio Lab. Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Camilo García-Jimeno & James A. Robinson, 2014. "State Capacity and Economic Development: A Network Approach," NBER Working Papers 19813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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