Colonialism, Inequality, and Long-Run Paths of Development
AbstractOver the last few years, colonialism, especially as pursued by Europeans, has enjoyed a revival in interest among both scholars and the general public. Although a number of new accounts cast colonial empires in a more favorable light than has generally been customary, others contend that colonial powers often leveraged their imbalance in power to impose institutional arrangements on the colonies that were adverse to long-term development. We argue here, however, that one of the most fundamental impacts of European colonization may have been in altering the composition of the populations in the areas colonized. The efforts of the Europeans often involved implanting ongoing communities who were greatly advantaged over natives in terms of human capital and legal status. Because the paths of institutional development were sensitive to the incidence of extreme inequality which resulted, their activity had long lingering effects. More study is needed to identify all of the mechanisms at work, but the evidence from the colonies in the Americas suggests that it was those that began with extreme inequality and population heterogeneity that came to exhibit persistence over time in evolving institutions that restricted access to economic opportunities and generated lower rates of public investment in schools and other infrastructure considered conducive to growth. These patterns may help to explain why a great many societies with legacies as colonies with extreme inequality have suffered from poor development experiences.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11057.
Date of creation: Jan 2005
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AFR-2005-01-23 (Africa)
- NEP-ALL-2005-01-23 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAM-2005-01-23 (Central & South America)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 2003.
"Tropics, germs, and crops: how endowments influence economic development,"
Journal of Monetary Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 3-39, January.
- William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 9106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," Working Papers 15, Center for Global Development.
- Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991.
"Distributive Politics and Economic Growth,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Rodrik, Dani & Alesina, Alberto, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4551798, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Easterlin, Richard A., 1981. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(01), pages 1-17, March.
- Torsten Persson and Guido Tabellini., 1991.
"Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence,"
Economics Working Papers
91-155, University of California at Berkeley.
- Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt00x7n68q, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Mauro Caselli, 2012.
"Does wealth inequality reduce the gains from trade?,"
Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv),
Springer, vol. 148(2), pages 333-356, June.
- Caselli, Mauro, 2009. "Does wealth inequality reduce the gains from trade?," MPRA Paper 15329, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Mauro Caselli, 2008. "Does wealth inequality reduce the gains from trade?," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2008-30, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
- Mauro Caselli, 2008. "Does wealth inequality reduce the gains from trade?," CSAE Working Paper Series 2008-30, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
- Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 2006.
"The Persistence of Underdevelopment:Institutions, Human Capital or Constituencies?,"
- Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 2006. "The Persistence of Underdevelopment: Institutions, Human Capital or Constituencies," CEPR Discussion Papers 5867, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Arcand, Jean-Louis & Tranchant, Jean-Pierre, 2007.
"Institutions, mobilization and rebellion in post-colonial societies,"
19648, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Jean-Louis Arcand & Jean-Pierre Tranchant, 2012. "Institutions, Mobilization and Rebellion in Post-Colonial Societies," HiCN Working Papers 133, Households in Conflict Network.
- Dobson, Stephen & Ramlogan-Dobson, Carlyn, 2012. "Why is Corruption Less Harmful to Income Inequality in Latin America?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(8), pages 1534-1545.
- Arusha Cooray (University of Wollongong), . "Does Colonialism Exert a Long Term Economic Impact on Adult Literacy?," QEH Working Papers qehwps176, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
- Raghuram G. Rajan, 2006. "Competitive Rent Preservation, Reform Paralysis, and the Persistence of Underdevelopment," NBER Working Papers 12093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Falkinger, Josef & Grossmann, Volker, 2013. "Oligarchic land ownership, entrepreneurship, and economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 206-215.
- Angeles, Luis, 2009.
"Colonialism, European Descendants and Democracy,"
SIRE Discussion Papers
2009-50, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
- José Antonio Alonso & Carlos Garcimartín, .
"The Determinants of Institutional Quality. More on the Debate,"
09/04, University of Nottingham, CREDIT.
- José Antonio Alonso & Carlos Garcimartín, 2013. "The Determinants Of Institutional Quality. More On The Debate," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(2), pages 206-226, 03.
- José Antonio Alonso & Carlos Garcimartín, 2009. "The Determinants of Institutional Quality. More on the Debate," Working Papers del Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales 03-09, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales.
- José Antonio Alonso & Carlos Garcimartín, . "Does Aid Hinder Tax Efforts? More Evidence," Discussion Papers 11/04, University of Nottingham, CREDIT.
- Elise Huillery, 2011.
"The Impact of European Settlement within French West Africa: Did Pre-colonial Prosperous Areas Fall Behind?,"
Journal of African Economies,
Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 20(2), pages 263-311, March.
- Elise Huillery, 2008. "The Impact of European Settlement within French West Africa. Did pre-colonial prosperous areas fall behind?," Working Papers DT/2008/01, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
- Richard Bluhm & Adam Szirmai & UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2011. "Institutions, Inequality and Growth: A review of theory and evidence on the institutional determinants of growth and inequality," Innocenti Working Papers inwopa634, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.