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Four Essays in Historical and Institutional Economics and Economic Development

Olivier, Junius (2018) Four Essays in Historical and Institutional Economics and Economic Development. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

In Chapter 1, we propose a theory to explain the poor performance of Jamaica relative to the other former British West Indian sugar colonies in the post-emancipation period (post 1834). Using empirical data from the colonial Blue Books, Parliamentary Papers and other sources, we perform an interrupted time series analysis and show that the intervention in 1866, which saw the abolishing of the Planters’ Assembly, and its replacement with Crown Colony rule, led to significantly higher levels of public investment on the island. Using sugar’s share of exports as a proxy for the strength/presence of the plantation economy, we identify and quantify the role of the plantation interest in manipulating public investment and show that this was motivated by a desire to influence wages. In Chapter 2, we propose an institutional and colonial origins approach to explaining the social and economic divergence among the former British West Indian sugar colonies. Specifically, we focus on the contrasting economic development among the five main sugar colonies, Antigua, Barbados, Saint Kitts, Guyana and Jamaica. We hypothesise that where colonial population density was high, labour supply was plentiful and West Indian planters received adequate labour for their plantations without the need for highly repressive institutions. This led to better institutions, lower levels of conflict, and a higher level of social cohesion which, we argue, facilitated better economic performance. In Chapter 3 we survey the literature concerning government intervention in the African peasant sector, paying special attention to policies concerned with labour supply during the colonial period. The survey covers several African colonies and works by various scholars. The analysis in Chpater 4 uses colonial population density, labour institutions flexibility (the average (2008-2016) ‘Flexibility’ score from the Global Competitiveness Index), and a measure of labour conflict (per capita number of days lost due to strikes and lockouts, averaged over the first twenty years of each country’s independence) to test the relationship between historical labour availability, labour conflict and the quality of labour institutions today. We find a persistent and significant positive relationship between the quality of labour institutions and colonial labour availability, and a negative relationship between conflict and the quality of institutions in 53 former tropical colonies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Economics and Related Studies (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.804607
Depositing User: Mr Junius Olivier
Date Deposited: 06 May 2020 10:07
Last Modified: 21 May 2020 09:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25200

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