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Caribbean slavery and British growth


  • Solow, Barbara L.


The paper supports the hypothesis advanced by Eric Williams that slavery in the British West Indies contributed significantly to English industrial growth in the second half of the eighteenth century. Objections are raised to earlier criticisms of the Williams hypothesis, and a simple Cobb-Douglas model is used to demonstrate how the slave colonies contributed to home country growth and that this contribution was quantitatively important. The paper concludes that colonial slavery increased British national income and the pool of investable funds and resulted in a pattern of trade that encouraged industrialization.

Suggested Citation

  • Solow, Barbara L., 1985. "Caribbean slavery and British growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 99-115.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:17:y:1985:i:1:p:99-115
    DOI: 10.1016/0304-3878(85)90024-0

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Roger T. Anstey, 1968. "Capitalism and Slavery: a Critique," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 21(2), pages 307-320, August.
    2. Coelho, Philip R. P., 1973. "The profitability of imperialism: The British experience in the West indies 1768-1772," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 253-280.
    3. Robert Paul Thomas, 1968. "The Sugar Colonies of the Old Empire:Profit or Loss for Great Britain?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 21(1), pages 30-45, April.
    4. R. B. Sheridan, 1968. "The Wealth of Jamaica in the Eighteenth, Centuy: A Rejoinder," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 21(1), pages 46-61, April.
    5. Engerman, Stanley L., 1972. "The Slave Trade and British Capital Formation in the Eighteenth Century: A Comment on the Williams Thesis," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(04), pages 430-443, December.
    6. R. B. Sheridan, 1965. "The Wealth of Jamaica in the Eighteenth Century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 18(2), pages 292-311, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Guillaume Daudin, 2006. "Profits du commerce intercontinental et croissance dans la France du xviiie siècle," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 57(3), pages 605-613.
    2. Guillaume Daudin, 2003. "Do Frontiers give of do frontiers take ? The case of intercontinental trade in France at the end of the Ancien Régime," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2003-03, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    3. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/684 is not listed on IDEAS

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