The Political Economy of Imperialism, Decolonization, and Development

Univ. of Zurich Working Paper No. 466

44 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2010

See all articles by Erik Gartzke

Erik Gartzke

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Dominic Rohner

University of Zurich

Date Written: September 19, 2009

Abstract

Nations have historically sought power and prosperity through control of physical space. In recent decades, however, territorial empire has largely ceased. Most states that can take and hold territory no longer appear eager to do so, while the weak are unable to expand. Have powerful countries become "kinder and gentler", or has something fundamental changed about the logic of empire? We offer a theory of imperialism and decolonization that explains both historic cycles of expansion and decline and the demise of the urge to colonize. Technological shocks enable expansion, while military technology gradually disseminates, diluting imperial advantage. At the same time, economic development has led to a secular decline in the payoffs for appropriating land, minerals, and reluctant labor. Once conquest no longer pays for great powers, the systemic imperative to vertically integrate production also becomes archaic.

Keywords: Imperialism, Decolonization, Development, Democracy, Mercantilism

JEL Classification: D74, N40

Suggested Citation

Gartzke, Erik and Rohner, Dominic, The Political Economy of Imperialism, Decolonization, and Development (September 19, 2009). Univ. of Zurich Working Paper No. 466, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1554816 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1554816

Erik Gartzke (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
San Diego, CA
United States

Dominic Rohner

University of Zurich ( email )

Muehlebachstrasse 86
Zurich, 8008
Switzerland

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
97
Abstract Views
791
rank
297,313
PlumX Metrics