On the Colonial Origins of Agricultural Development in India: A Re-Examination of Banerjee and Iyer, ‘History, Institutions and Economic Performance’

35 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2012

See all articles by Vegard Iversen

Vegard Iversen

University of Manchester

Richard Palmer-Jones

University of East Anglia (UEA)

Kunal Sen

University of Manchester

Date Written: August 22, 2012

Abstract

Banerjee and Iyer (henceforth, BI) (American Economic Review, 2005) find that districts which the British assigned to landlord revenue systems systematically underperform districts with non-landlord based revenue systems, especially in agricultural investment and productivity and mainly after the onset of the Green Revolution in the mid-1960s. On this basis, BI claim there were long-lasting effects of the institutions established in British India on a variety of development outcomes after independence. We correct a miscoding of the land revenue system in Central Provinces, which BI characterise as mostly landlord based, when reliable historical evidence suggest that this region should have been attributed to a mixed landlord/non-landlord based revenue system. Using a more appropriate classification of the land revenue system of the Central Provinces constructed from documented archival research, we find no evidence that agricultural performance of Indian districts in the post-independence period was adversely affected by the colonial landlord land revenue system. Our results demonstrate that the key BI argument that the more ‘oppressive’ landlord-based colonial land revenue systems mattered for post-independent agricultural development in India rests on fragile historical and statistical foundations.

Keywords: agriculture, colonisation, institutions, land revenue, India

Suggested Citation

Iversen, Vegard and Palmer-Jones, Richard and Sen, Kunal, On the Colonial Origins of Agricultural Development in India: A Re-Examination of Banerjee and Iyer, ‘History, Institutions and Economic Performance’ (August 22, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2134012 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2134012

Vegard Iversen

University of Manchester ( email )

Richard Palmer-Jones

University of East Anglia (UEA) ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

Kunal Sen (Contact Author)

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

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