Colonialism Benefited the Colonized

Dennis Mangan, Mangan's, July 14, 2014

Did colonialism benefit the colonized? It did, so argues a paper by two economists, Feyrer and Sacerdote, Colonialism and Modern Income–Islands as Natural Experiments. (Full paper pdf.) They found that each additional century of colonial status resulted in a 40% greater GDP.

Colonialism used to be one of Cultural Marxism’s centerpieces–maybe it still is, for all I know. But it seems to have waned somewhat as a talking point, since it’s become abundantly clear that Third World nations are capable of massively screwing things up on their own. The former Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and later Rhodesia itself, was a model of integrity and peace compared to what Zimbabwe has descended to. Hard to see how that could be blamed on colonialism when it’s the very absence of colonialism that characterizes the difference between Rhodesia then and Zimbabwe now.

The paper’s authors also found that “there is a discernable pecking order amongst the colonizers. Years under US and Dutch colonial rule are significantly better than years under the Spanish and Portuguese.” Knock me over with a feather: being colonized by an economically more advanced European nation, or the U.S., gives better results than colonization by nations whose best days were hundreds of years ago. In a way, it seems not surprising that exposure to technology, education, and institutions from economically and technically more advanced nations from Europe would increase prosperity in countries less advanced. Colonialism may be looked on in this light as the international equivalent of education.


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