Should-Read: Colonial régimes were unwilling to make the “normal” investments in education and infrastructure that even a subnormal autonomous régime would have made. And without those investments colonies could not take full advantage of comparative advantage opportunities opened up by globalization. Full Stop. Thus colonization meant social dislocation and the enrichment of a “comprador” stratum little tied to the broader underlying economy. Is this the story that economic history is telling us these days about the British, French, Portuguese, Italian empires?: Bishnupriya Gupta: Falling Behind and Catching up: India’s Transition from a Colonial Economy: “India fell behind during colonial rule…

…The absolute and relative decline of Indian GDP per capita with respect to Britain began before colonization and coincided with the rising textile trade with Europe in the 18th century. The decline of traditional industries was not the main driver of Indian decline and stagnation. Inadequate investment in agriculture and consequent decline in yield per acre stalled economic growth. Modern industries emerged and grew relatively fast.

The falling behind was reversed after independence. Policies of industrialization and a green revolution in agriculture increased productivity growth in agriculture and industry, but Indian growth has been led by services. A strong focus on higher education under colonial policy had created an advantage for the service sector, which today has a high concentration of human capital. However, the slow expansion in primary education was a disadvantage in comparison with the high growth East Asian economies…

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Brad DeLong

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