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On the Institutional Legacy of Mercantilist and Imperialist Colonialism

  • Olsson, Ola


    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

The article features a temporal approach to modelling the social impact of Western colonialism. We collect a data set for all former colonies and dependencies that are regarded as countries today (143 observations). Our data, as well as existing theory, suggest that the very heterogeneous era of colonization might be divided into an early ’mercantilist’ wave and a much later ’imperialist’ wave with quite different characteristics. We demonstrate that a commonly used determinant of institutional quality - colonial settler mortality - had a much weaker effect on institutional outcomes during the imperialist scramble for Africa. When we broaden the analysis, it is shown that the positive effect of colonial duration on democracy is strongest among countries colonized during the imperialist era. Controlling for colonial duration, our results further indicate that a long history of statehood is bad for democracy while there is almost no effect of the national identity of the colonizer.

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Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 247.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: 09 Mar 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0247
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
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  1. 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.
  2. Congdon Fors, Heather, 2007. "Island Status, Country Size and Institutional Quality in Former Colonies," Working Papers in Economics 257, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  3. James Feyrer & Bruce Sacerdote, 2006. "Colonialism and Modern Income -- Islands as Natural Experiments," NBER Working Papers 12546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Dani Rodrik, 2006. "Institutions for High-Quality Growth: What They Are and How to Acquire Them," Chapters, in: Institutions, Globalisation and Empowerment, chapter 2 Edward Elgar.
  5. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Determinants of Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S158-S183, December.
  6. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
  7. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," Working Papers 15, Center for Global Development.
  8. Bertocchi, Graziella & Canova, Fabio, 2002. "Did colonization matter for growth?: An empirical exploration into the historical causes of Africa's underdevelopment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(10), pages 1851-1871, December.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2008. "Persistence of Power, Elites, and Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 267-93, March.
  10. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:1:p:83-116 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. David Y. Albouy, 2012. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 3059-76, October.
  12. Rodrik, Dani & Subramanian, Arvind & Trebbi, Francesco, 2002. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 3643, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:4:p:1231-1294 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Lange, Matthew K., 2004. "British Colonial Legacies and Political Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 905-922, June.
  15. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Gregory N. Price, 2003. "Economic Growth in a Cross-section of Nonindustrial Countries: Does Colonial Heritage Matter for Africa?," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 478-495, 08.
  17. Congdon Fors, Heather & Olsson, Ola, 2007. "Endogenous institutional change after independence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(8), pages 1896-1921, November.
  18. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Goverment," NBER Working Papers 6727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Grier, Robin M, 1999. " Colonial Legacies and Economic Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 317-35, March.
  21. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
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