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Colonialism and Industrialization: Empirical Results

34 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2012 Last revised: 10 Apr 2012

M. Shahid Alam

Northeastern University

Date Written: March 29, 2012


This paper presents theory and evidence to show that imperialism was a major factor impeding the spread of the industrial revolution during the century ending in the 1950s. Two empirical results stand out. First, analysis of historical evidence shows that most sovereign countries were implementing active industrial policies during the nineteenth century, while policies in dependent countries were biased in the opposite direction. Second, when allowance is made for economic determinants, industrialization in dependent countries in 1960 is found to be significantly lower than in sovereign countries. This result is shown to be quite robust to changes in data, sample size, functional forms, and specifications of the estimating equations. In particular, the basic results are not affected by the inclusion of a dummy for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Keywords: Colonialism, Colony, Industrialization, De-Industrialization, Manufactures, Culture, Institutions, Gregory Clark, David Landes, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Civilizing Mission, Economic Development, Open Door Treaties, Unequal Treaties, Dependencies, Sovereignty, Decolonization

JEL Classification: O10, O14, O24, O25, O57

Suggested Citation

Alam, M. Shahid, Colonialism and Industrialization: Empirical Results (March 29, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Mohammad Shahid Alam (Contact Author)

Northeastern University ( email )

Boston, MA 02115
United States

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