Public Choice

, Volume 98, Issue 3–4, pp 317–335 | Cite as

Colonial legacies and economic growth

  • Robin M. Grier


Much of the work on colonialism has been theoretical or anecdotal. In this paper, I close the gap between the literature on development and new growth theory by testing the effect of colonization on subsequent growth and development. In a sample of 63 ex-colonial states from 1961-1990, I find that colonies that were held for longer periods of time than other countries tend to perform better, on average, after independence. Finally, I show that the level of education at the time of independence can help to explain much of the development gap between the former British and French colonies in Africa.


Economic Growth Public Finance Subsequent Growth Growth Theory French Coloni 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barro, R.J. (1991). Economic growth in a cross section of countries. The Quarterly Journal of Economics106(2): 407–443.Google Scholar
  2. Bertocchi, A. and Canova, F. (1996). Did colonization matter for growth? An empirical exploration into the historical causes of Africa's underdevelopment. Unpublished.Google Scholar
  3. Brading, D.A. (1971). Miners and merchants in Bourbon Mexico: 1763–1810. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Corbett, E.M. (1972). The French presence in black Africa. Washington, DC: Black Orpheus Press, Inc.Google Scholar
  5. Dowrick, S. and Nguyen, D.T. (1989). OECD comparative economic growth 1950–85: Catchup and convergence. American Economic Review79: 1010–1030.Google Scholar
  6. Easterlin, R.A. (1981). Why isn't the whole world developed? Journal of Economic History. 1: 1–19.Google Scholar
  7. Fetter, B. (1979). Colonial rule in Africa: Readings from primary sources. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  8. Fieldhouse, D.K. (1966). The colonial empires from the 18th century. New York: Dell Publishing.Google Scholar
  9. Friedman,M. (1977). Inflation and unemployment. Journal of Political Economy 85: 451–472.Google Scholar
  10. Friedman,M. (1992).Do old fallacies ever die? Journal of Economic Literature 30: 2129–2132.Google Scholar
  11. Grier, K.B. and Tullock, G. (1989). An empirical analysis of crossnational economic growth, 1951–80. Journal of Monetary Economics24: 259–276.Google Scholar
  12. Grier, R. (1997). The effect of religion on economic development: A cross national study of 63 former colonies. Kyklos(vol. 50, no.1, 47–62).Google Scholar
  13. Hanson, J.R. (1989). Education, economic development, and technology transfer: A colonial test. Journal of Economic History4: 939–957.Google Scholar
  14. Harrison, L. (1985). Underdevelopment is a state of mind: The Latin American case. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, and University Press of America, Lanham, MD.Google Scholar
  15. Hayek, F.A. (1944). The road of serfdom. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  16. Kelly, G.P. (1986). Learning to be marginal: Schooling in interwar FrenchWestAfrica. Journal of Asian and African Studies21: 171–184.Google Scholar
  17. Keyfitz, N. and Flieger,W.C. (1990).World population growth and aging: Demographic trends in the late twentieth century. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Kormendi, R.C. and Meguire, P.G. (1985). Macroeconomic determinants of growth: Crosscountry evidence. Journal of Monetary Economics16: 141–163.Google Scholar
  19. Lee, J.M. (1967). Colonial development and good government. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  20. Levi, M. and Makin, J.C. (1980). Inflation uncertainty and the Phillips curve: Some empirical evidence. American Economic Review70: 1022–1027.Google Scholar
  21. Mayhew, A. (1933). Contemporary survey of educational aims and methods in India and Africa. Africa6: 172–186.Google Scholar
  22. McInnes, C.M. (Ed.). (1950). Principles and methods of colonial administration. London: Butterworths.Google Scholar
  23. Mitchell, B.R. (1982). International historical statistics: Africa and Asia. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Mullineaux, D. (1980). Unemployment, industrial production and inflation uncertainty. Review of Economics and Statistics62: 163–168.Google Scholar
  25. Quah, D. (1993a). Empirical crosssection dynamics in economic growth. European EconomicReview37: 426–434.Google Scholar
  26. Quah, D. (1993b). Galton's fallacy and tests of the convergence hypothesis. Scandinavian Journal of Economics95: 427–443.Google Scholar
  27. Rebelo, S. (1991). Longrun policy analysis and longrun growth. Journal of Political Economy99: 500–521.Google Scholar
  28. Romer, P. (1987). Crazy explanations for the productivity slowdown. In S. Fischer (Ed.), NBER macroeconomics annual, 163–202. Cambridge, Massachusets: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  29. Summers, R. and Heston, A. (1991). The Penn World Table (Mark 5). An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950–1988, Quarterly Journal of Economics106(2): 327–368.Google Scholar
  30. von der Mehden, F.R. (1969). Politics of the developing nation. Englewood Cliffs: PrenticeHall.Google Scholar
  31. Wieschhoff, H.A. (1944). Colonial policies in Africa.Westport, CT: Negro Universities Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin M. Grier
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsCIDEMéxicoMéxico

Personalised recommendations