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Colonial independence and economic backwardness in Latin America

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  • Prados de la Escosura, Leandro

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2005. "Colonial independence and economic backwardness in Latin America," Economic History Working Papers 22482, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22482
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22482/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2005. "Growth, inequality, and poverty in Latin America: historical evidence, controlled conjectures," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wh054104, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    2. Rodríguez, Javier & Willebald Remedios, Henry Francisco & Bértola, Luis & Castelnovo, Cecilia, 2008. "Income distribution in the Latin American Southern Cone during the first globalization boom, ca: 1870-1920," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp08-05, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    3. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925

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