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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Miriam Bruhn & Francisco A. Gallego, 2012. "Good, Bad, and Ugly Colonial Activities: Do They Matter for Economic Development?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 433-461, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:94:y:2012:i:2:p:433-461
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    colonial era; labor exploitation; economic development;

    JEL classification:

    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative

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