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Colonial Independence And Economic Backwardness In Latin America

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  • Leandro Prados de la Escosura

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Abstract

This paper explores the connections between independence from Spain and Portugal and economic backwardness in Latin America. The release of the fiscal burden was offset by higher costs of self-government, while opening up to the international economy represented a handmaiden of growth. Independence had a very different impact across regions and widened regional disparities. The commitment to the colonial mercantilism conditioned the new republics’ performance but, on the whole, GDP per head increased in the half a century after emancipation. It appears that inherited Iberian institutions cannot be blamed for Latin America’s poor performance relative to the US, especially if the scope is widened to include the post-independence performance of former European colonies in Africa and Asia. It is suggested that before jumping to the usual negative assessment of nineteenth century Latin America, a comparison of post-independence performance in other world regions will be required.

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Paper provided by Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones in its series Working Papers in Economic History with number wh046503.

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Date of creation: Dec 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wh046503

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Cited by:
  1. Salomón Kalmanovitz, 2006. "El PIB de la Nueva Granada en 1800: auge colonial, estancamiento republicano," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 8(15), pages 161-183, July-Dece.
  2. Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 2005. "Growth, Inequality, And Poverty In Latin America: Historical Evidence, Controlled Conjectures," Working Papers in Economic History wh054104, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones.
  3. Luis Bertola & Cecilia Castelnovo & Javier Rodriguez & Henry Willebald, 2008. "Income distribution in the Latin American Southern Cone during the first globalization boom, ca: 1870-1920," Working Papers in Economic History wp08-05, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones.

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