Whos the Best Colonizer?

#1
From Slate.com:

Master of the Island:Which country is the best colonizer?
By Joel Waldfogel
Posted Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006, at 3:09 PM ET


A generation ago, Christopher Columbus was a hero. No longer. Even my preteen kids can tell you that Columbus' followers brought disease and death to many New World natives. But as the forerunner of European colonization, can Columbus also claim to have ushered in an era of higher standards of living?

One of the deep questions in economics is why some countries are rich and others are poor. It is widely believed that institutions such as clear and enforceable property rights are important to economic growth. Still, debates rage: Do culture, history, government, education, temperature, natural resources, cosmic rays make the difference? The reason it's hard to resolve this question is that we have no controlled experiments comparing otherwise similar places with different sets of legal and economic institutions. In new research, James Feyrer and Bruce Sacerdote, both of Dartmouth College, consider the effect of a particular aspect of history—the length of European colonization—on the current standard of living of a group of 80 tiny, isolated islands that have not previously been used in cross-country comparisons. Their question: Are the islands that experienced European colonization for a longer period of time richer today?

Imagine the ideal experiment for measuring the role of European colonization on economic growth. You would take a bunch of Europeans, set them down on different isolated islands for different lengths of time, wait a few hundred years, and then check to see whether the islands fertilized with Europeans for longer periods had become more prosperous. The insight of Feyrer and Sacerdote's paper is that the colonization that followed European voyages of discovery to the Pacific created just this experiment.

Mitiaro, Pohnpei, and Aitutaki—these are small islands in the Pacific that were colonized by European explorers at different times. They, and 77 other islands in the Atlantic, Pacific, and elsewhere, constitute the data the authors use in their study. Scholars who have made cross-country comparisons before have ignored these islands. Europeans "discovered" some of these places by accident. Pitcairn Island was colonized when the crew of the HMS Bounty staged a mutiny after an arduous trip to Tahiti under Capt. William Bligh. Explorers encountered Penrhyn, in the Cook Islands, after storms wrecked their vessels on its shores.

Feyrer and Sacedote's key findings are that the longer one of the islands spent as a colony, the higher its present-day living standards and the lower its infant mortality rate. Each additional century of European colonization is associated with a 40 percent boost in income today and a reduction in infant mortality of 2.6 deaths per 1,000 births.

By itself, the relationship between longer colonization and higher living standards could arise either because European contact raised living standards or because European explorers colonized the most promising islands first. The authors cleverly reject the latter possibility by noting that the sailing of the day relied on wind, which meant that islands located where wind is weak were "less likely to be discovered, revisited, and colonized by Europeans." Thus, wind conditions, rather than island promise, determined which islands were colonized first, and so which islands remained as colonies longer. The relationship between colonial duration and wealth reflects the effect of colonization on material living standards, rather than the other way around.

So, what did the Europeans do right? The authors conclude that there's no simple answer. The most plausible mechanisms include trade, education, and democratic government. When the study directly measures these factors, some of them help to explain income differences among islands—for example, the places that traded only basic agricultural products in colonial times now have lower living standards. But even after accounting for these concrete determinants, longer European colonization has some extra pro-growth effect. Exposure to European colonizers, it appears, benefits living standards for reasons apart from the direct effects of government, education, and markets.

To be sure, Europeans have not always been benevolent masters. Before the Enlightenment, they tended to view natives as savages who were better off dead than not baptized. After about 1700, however, attitudes began to change. While 16th-century explorers like Magellan set out to spread Christianity as well as make money, later voyages, like those of English Capt. James Cook between 1768 and 1779, had more explicitly scientific aims. The experience of island colonies reflects the difference. When the authors divide the islands into those that were colonized in the centuries before 1700 and those that were colonized after, current island income is 64 percent higher per century for the post-Enlightenment group but only 11 percent higher per century for the pre-Enlightenment one. And, no, the effects don't appear to stem from the replacement of decimated low-income native populations with higher-income Europeans.

The authors also compare the experiences of separate Pacific islands with eight different colonizers: the United States, Britain, Spain, Denmark, Portugal, Japan, Germany, and France. Their verdict is that the islands that are best off, in terms of income growth, are the ones that were colonized by the United States—as in Guam and Puerto Rico. Next best is time spent as a Dutch, British, or French colony. At the bottom are the countries colonized by the Spanish and especially the Portuguese.

There is no disputing that thousands died in the wake of European explorers' discovery of the New World. That's bad. But we can still give a small cheer for Columbus, because European colonization brought riches in its wake.
There's South America, then. At least I can blame Spain!

An interesting article...it's not real PC, to be sure, but I thought it might engender some discussion.

For instance, is the comparison of British colonization centuries ago to the much more recent United States' version on geographically closer islands an apples-to-apples comparison?
 
#5
Interesting subject. I'd like to see a comparison between colonized islands and those that maintained their own soveriegnty (sp?), that is if any such exist.

I do note that in the case of Peurto Rico, they were long a Spanish colony before being taken by the US. Wasn't Guam as well? I wonder how that affects things.
 

Nehustan

On ROPS
On ROPs
#6
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[align=center]I think this is probably the best one I could find. She was heard to exclaim 'Don't worry Mr Septic, we'll have it all out in a minute'[/align]
 
#7
The Chinese,2nd to none!

Even though many will give me a kicking for this,the longer I live in Asia
the more I have come to believe that Europeans never did RULE any Asian country,they allowed us to build big homes , fly our flags and take a piece of the pie.
And when we became vulnerable it was good bye Tommy/other Europeans.
 
#9
Surely the best coloniser is the country that persuades the inhabitants of a particular peace of real estate to be colonised - it ain't about how great the places are now? So I don't agree that the septics were the best colonisers - most of their colonies they nicked from the Spanish in the Spanish American War.
 
#10
Well, first you need to define Colonisation:

Colonise
v 1: settle as a colony; of countries in the developing world; "Europeans colonized Africa in the 17th century" [syn: colonize] [ant: decolonize] 2: settle as colonists or establish a colony (in); "The British colonized the East Coast" [syn: colonize]
And going by this definition of colonisation, I would say Britain did pretty well at it.
At the same time, the US didn't do well, as they have, to my knowledge, not actually settled anywhere and established colonies, but rather aggresively taken colonies established by other nations.
 
#11
If the US is such a good colonizer then it must be saying something about British colonisation, as one of the main colonizers of America we must have had a major role in making them so good at it.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and United States were all former colonies and are a few that I can think of as being succesfull. The fact that a former colony of ours became the worlds greatest superpower surely says it all. :)
 
#12
daviroo said:
If the US is such a good colonizer then it must be saying something about British colonisation, as one of the main colonizers of America we must have had a major role in making them so good at it.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and United States were all former colonies and are a few that I can think of as being succesfull. The fact that a former colony of ours became the worlds greatest superpower surely says it all. :)
Wow, those would be really awesome points if only someone had made a major case for the US of A being such a great colonizer...

Isn't there a hole for you to crawl in to somewhere?
 

Nehustan

On ROPS
On ROPs
#13
sawdusty said:
daviroo said:
If the US is such a good colonizer then it must be saying something about British colonisation, as one of the main colonizers of America we must have had a major role in making them so good at it.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and United States were all former colonies and are a few that I can think of as being succesfull. The fact that a former colony of ours became the worlds greatest superpower surely says it all. :)
Wow, those would be really awesome points if only someone had made a major case for the US of A being such a great colonizer...

Isn't there a hole for you to crawl in to somewhere?

Oiii, have some respect, bend over when someone kisses arrse...
 
#14
sawdusty said:
daviroo said:
If the US is such a good colonizer then it must be saying something about British colonisation, as one of the main colonizers of America we must have had a major role in making them so good at it.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and United States were all former colonies and are a few that I can think of as being succesfull. The fact that a former colony of ours became the worlds greatest superpower surely says it all. :)
Wow, those would be really awesome points if only someone had made a major case for the US of A being such a great colonizer...

Isn't there a hole for you to crawl in to somewhere?
"The authors also compare the experiences of separate Pacific islands with eight different colonizers: the United States, Britain, Spain, Denmark, Portugal, Japan, Germany, and France. Their verdict is that the islands that are best off, in terms of income growth, are the ones that were colonized by the United States—as in Guam and Puerto Rico. Next best is time spent as a Dutch, British, or French colony. At the bottom are the countries colonized by the Spanish and especially the Portuguese."

this passage is from the article that is being discussed and is the one I was commenting on.
 
#15
Sustained colonialism - self-evident surely, that the USA wins hands down?!

One way or another, the whole country was taken from someone else, and is now an economically vibrant, self-sustaining polity, AND a global "hyperpower" to boot! By any standards, not bad going.
 
#16
daviroo said:
sawdusty said:
daviroo said:
If the US is such a good colonizer then it must be saying something about British colonisation, as one of the main colonizers of America we must have had a major role in making them so good at it.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and United States were all former colonies and are a few that I can think of as being succesfull. The fact that a former colony of ours became the worlds greatest superpower surely says it all. :)
Wow, those would be really awesome points if only someone had made a major case for the US of A being such a great colonizer...

Isn't there a hole for you to crawl in to somewhere?

"The authors also compare the experiences of separate Pacific islands with eight different colonizers: the United States, Britain, Spain, Denmark, Portugal, Japan, Germany, and France. Their verdict is that the islands that are best off, in terms of income growth, are the ones that were colonized by the United States—as in Guam and Puerto Rico. Next best is time spent as a Dutch, British, or French colony. At the bottom are the countries colonized by the Spanish and especially the Portuguese."

this passage is from the article that is being discussed and is the one I was commenting on.
While that is true, I see no one claiming that the US is the best colonizer. Certainly no one on ARRSE did...

It's merely an example of a few insecure tw@ts who must trample every topic, no matter how serious it may be, with some gratuitous spam bashing.

Do try to keep up, dear boy.
 
#17
expat_71 said:
The Chinese,2nd to none!
Not that sure about the Chinese (Han) expat_71, although they did travel the world prior to 1421 it was as traders & explorers, afterwards Chinese colonies away from the mainland were mainly ad hoc groups of people escaping the confines of Imperial Chinese life. They were allowed to stay by local rulers by being very useful, hard working and law abiding and not fcuking around in local politics.

No really a calculated expansion policy ref GB, the Dons or the Frogs.
 
#19
armchair_jihad wrote

Not that sure about the Chinese (Han) expat_71

It's just that I have been lead to believe that the Thais,Vietnamese,Champa,Koreans,Mongols,Burmese,Cambodians,
Japanese,American Indians(North,south,and Central),
Tibetans and Loasians among others were displaced by the Han Chinese.

Hmmm. No mention of the Russians? Well pointed out!
 

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