Colonialism and its impact today
24 April 2012
One major global question is why some countries are rich and others are poor. In November, the Swedish Research Council granted SEK 6 million in direct government funding to a project at LUSEM investigating the effects of colonialism on the ability of developing countrie to create long-term growth. Christer Gunnarsson is a professor at the Department of Economic History, the world’s largest in the field. He leads the project that will study how colonial institutions have affected long-term economic growth in developing countries.
“To understand present-day effects of colonial institutions, we chose to focus on the institutional arrangements that existed at the end of the colonial period. We’re looking more closely at how these relate to income inequalities and levels of economic development, and to the possibilities for the elite to absorb wealth”, says Christer Gunnarsson.
The ambition of the project is to create longer time series relating to a number of developing countries, and thus to identify changes in income inequalities and the institutional determinants, as well as the effects of inequality and exploitative colonial institutions. “This grant makes it possible for us to explore different dynamics in the growth of institutions that affect growth in today’s developing countries. In that way, we can shed light on the meaning of the colonial legacy on development today. We will also directly point to needs for institutional reform”.