Trade and the Pattern of European Imperialism, 1492-2000
I construct a trade model of empire, and use it to interpret some of the key patterns in the history of European imperialism.� I begin from the observation that trade was a key source of wealth for the colonies, and trade restrictions a key tool of extraction for colonial powers.� But the value of this tool must be seen in relation to the value of colonial trade, and to the extent of international competition for it.� The model interprets the colonial empires that emerged in the 16th-18th century as a set of political institutions designed to appropriate the value of colonial trade to the mother country, at a time in which colonial trade was both valuable and highly competed for.� It explains the fluctuations in the fortunes of empire in the 19th and early 20th century with the rise of a clear industrial leader, Britain, and her subsequent decline.� Finally, it attributes the fall of colonial empires to a secular fall in the importance of colonial trade, relative to trade between the industrial countries.� I provide detailed historical evidence in support of these predictions.� The model also has predictions for the impact of empire-building on trade relations between the imperial powers.� These are consistent with the apparent inverse relation between European imperial expansion and globalization.
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