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On the democratic legacy of colonialism

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  • Olsson, Ola

Abstract

The article features a temporal approach to analyzing the impact of Western colonialism on contemporary levels of democracy. We present a new data set with dates of colonization, independence, and a colonizing event for all former colonies and dependencies that are regarded as countries today (143 observations). Our data, as well as the existing literature, suggest that the very heterogeneous era of colonization should be divided into an early 'mercantilist' wave and a much later 'imperialist' wave with quite different characteristics. We show that there is a strong positive effect of colonial duration on democracy, an effect which turns out to be driven primarily by former British colonies and by countries colonized during the imperialist era.

Suggested Citation

  • Olsson, Ola, 2009. "On the democratic legacy of colonialism," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 534-551, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:37:y:2009:i:4:p:534-551
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Oto-Peralías & Diego Romero-Ávila, 2014. "The Distribution of Legal Traditions around the World: A Contribution to the Legal-Origins Theory," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(3), pages 561-628.
    2. Simon Deakin & Prabirjit Sarkar & Mathias Siems, 2017. "Is There a Relationship between Shareholder Protection and Stock Market Development?," Working Papers wp492, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    3. Omgba, Luc Désiré, 2015. "Why Do Some Oil-Producing Countries Succeed in Democracy While Others Fail?," World Development, Elsevier, pages 180-189.
    4. Baten, Jörg & Cappelli, Gabriele, 2016. "The Evolution of Human Capital in Africa, 1730 -1970: A Colonial Legacy?," CEPR Discussion Papers 11273, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Martin Gassebner & Michael J. Lamla & James Raymond Vreeland, 2013. "Extreme Bounds of Democracy," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 57(2), pages 171-197, April.
    6. Congdon Fors, Heather, 2014. "Do island states have better institutions?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, pages 34-60.
    7. Arhan Ertan & Louis Putterman & Martin Fiszbein, 2012. "Determinants and Economic Consequences of Colonization: A Global Analysis," Working Papers 2012-5, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    8. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata, 2017. "1807: Economic shocks, conflict and the slave trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 66-76.
    9. Whatley, Warren, 2012. "The transatlantic slave trade and the evolution of political authority in West Africa," MPRA Paper 44932, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Buzasi, Katalin, 2012. "Does colonialism have an impact on the current language situation in Sub-Saharan Africa?," MPRA Paper 42791, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Klein, Michael, 2011. "Enrichment with growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5855, The World Bank.
    12. Ertan, Arhan & Fiszbein, Martin & Putterman, Louis, 2016. "Who was colonized and when? A cross-country analysis of determinants," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 165-184.
    13. Baskaran, Thushyanthan & Bigsten, Arne, 2013. "Fiscal Capacity and the Quality of Government in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 92-107.
    14. Wahl, Fabian, 2012. "Why it matters what people think: Beliefs, legal origins and the deep roots of trust," FZID Discussion Papers 52-2012, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
    15. Olsson, Ola & Hansson, Gustav, 2011. "Country size and the rule of law: Resuscitating Montesquieu," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(5), pages 613-629, June.
    16. repec:oup:jeurec:v:15:y:2017:i:1:p:1-53. is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Mangaard Jørgensen, Christina & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2015. "Did Africa’s First Choices Matter? Growth Legacies of Leaders at Independence," Working Paper Series 1090, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    18. Joseph Keneck Massil, 2016. "Institutions, théories du changement institutionnel et déterminant de la qualité des institutions: les enseignements de la littérature économique," EconomiX Working Papers 2016-4, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    19. Jimenez-Ayora, Pablo & Ulubaşoğlu, Mehmet Ali, 2015. "What underlies weak states? The role of terrain ruggedness," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 167-183.
    20. Baskaran, Thushyanthan & Bigsten, Arne, 2011. "Fiscal capacity and government accountability in sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers in Economics 506, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    21. Jeanet Sinding Bentzen & Nicolai Kaarsen & Asger Moll Wingender, 2017. "Irrigation and Autocracy," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, pages 1-53.
    22. Fenske, James, 2010. "Institutions in African history and development: A review essay," MPRA Paper 23120, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Pelle Ahlerup & Ola Olsson, 2012. "The roots of ethnic diversity," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 71-102, June.
    24. Broadberry, Stephen & Gardner, Leigh, 2014. "African economic growth in a European mirror: a historical perspective," Economic History Working Papers 56493, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    25. Thomas Denk & Sarah Lehtinen, 2016. "Two modes of democratisation: transition and state-formation," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 50(6), pages 2331-2346, November.

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