Colonialism and development: A comparative analysis of Spanish and British colonies

Matthew Lange, James Mahoney*, Matthias Vom Hau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent research shows that colonialism reversed levels of development in much of the non-European world. To explain this reversal, analysts focus on conditions within the colonized areas. By contrast, drawing on evidence from Spanish and British colonialism, the authors show that the economic models of the colonizing nations also affected the reversals of fortune. Mercantilist Spain tended to colonize most extensively precolonial regions that were populous and highly developed; in turn, extensive Spanish colonization had negative consequences for postcolonial development. In comparison, liberal Britain tended to colonize most extensively precolonial regions that were sparsely populated and underdeveloped; in turn, extensive British colonialism had comparatively positive effects. Thus, both Spain and Britain reversed the fortunes of precolonial regions, but in largely opposite ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1412-1462
Number of pages51
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Volume111
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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