Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

No mention of colonialism or imperialism here. Not the whole answer, but part.

Japan and Germany were completely devastated after WWII, on a scale we have never witnessed in our lifetimes, yet they rose out of the Ashes.

So no, it's not colonialism.

It has to be something less visible. Something that a country like Afghanistan for example severely lacks.

You might point to dictatorships, but I would point to South and North Koreas.

South Korea was ruled by a brutal dictatorship for decades, in a way not so different from Egypt today. Yet that did not stop it from developing.

Even North Korea fares a lot better than many third world countries that have little to no enmities with their neighbors. I suspect the only reason North Korea sucks is because of the pressures/blockades imposed on it by the US (mostly for historical reasons).

After WWII, the US invested /massively/ in Germany. Also, many people were trained in some profession, so even though everthing was destroyed, they knew how to rebuild it.

Same with South Korea, which actually made a lot of money during the Vietnam war, as did Japan. Japan trade with Zeus boomed at that time, and Korea supplied 300 000 mercenaries. Before that North Korea was faring better economically than the south.

I believe Japan and Germanys still had an educated and skilled population. And working systems against corruption and rule of law in society.

I thought that was pretty amusing at first, but at least in Germany there was a system that could be resurrected after Hitler. In Japan, I don't know.

I say moderate weather and higher percentage of fertile land.

Indeed. How rich would Finland, Sweden, Austria, and Poland really be today had they never colonized Africa or subjugated and enslaved its industrious inhabitants, and how rich would Ethiopia be if it had been spared from the ravages of European rapacity?

It's hard to say. Some countries were rich before they were colonised and had all their riches stolen, others were poor to begin with. Ethiopia is actually often mentioned as the only country in Africa that wasn't colonised (though that's not entirely true), and has been rich and powerful in the past, but it poor now. One of the poorest countries in Africa, Mali, was once the home of one of the richest empires ever.

China has been the richest and most powerful countries in the world for 2000 years before European nations crippled it in the Opium Wars.

Finland was never a colonial power, by the way. Sweden was, but Finland was still largely tribal a bit over a century ago, and was kind of a colony of Sweden and Russia alternately. The rise of Finland to one of the most civilised countries in the world over the period of a century is really interesting.

I fear racism is also a big factor. White people in Finland are more likely to get a break from other white people than black people in Ethiopia are.

But culture is also a big factor. In Europe, the most powerful economies are in the traditionally protestant north, whereas the Catholic south tends to have somewhat weaker economies. But why? And why were Muslim countries rich, powerful and advanced in the Middle Ages, and now not anymore?

> Ethiopia is actually often mentioned as the only country in Africa that wasn't colonised

> Finland was never a colonial power, by the way.

That was the whole sarcastically made point of the grandparent comment. Rich non-colonizing states vs. poor non-colonized states.

You're probably right, but the grandparent wasn't entirely correct. Sweden has had colonies in both Africa and the Caribbean, and Ethiopia has been colonised, although both for only a fairly short period.

Colonisation obviously does play a role. It's ridiculous to claim that pillaging or oppressing another country doesn't hurt it, nor enrich the country that takes the profits. But it's not remotely the only factor at play. And the further in the past some events are, the more they get overshadowed by more recent history. I don't think Italy has much remaining benefit from the slaves the Roman Empire took from the Kelts they conquered.

Neither Finland nor Poland had any colonies nor they had "enslaved its industrious inhabitants". So your example itself counters your point that colonization and enslavement are necessary for prosperity of countries.

The European countries would quite likely be similarly rich if - if you look at such countries that didn't have colonies like Switzerland or Ireland, they've done ok.

The impact of colonialism is studied under the institutionalist approach to growth theory, with the two most proeminent recent authors being Acemoglu and Robinson. The submission doesn't elaborate on it, but the literature is out there.

I'm not sure what your comment is supposed to mean. Can you explain in such a way that a non-domain expert can better interpret it?

I'm not sure what you think I suppose to mean. The economic impact of colonialism is already an active area of study. I'm just pointing out that it exists.

    The impact of colonialism is studied
    under the institutionalist approach
    to growth theory
What is the institutionalist approach? What is growth theory?

    authors being Acemoglu and Robinson.

    The submission doesn't elaborate on it,
    but the literature is out there.
I'm not trying to be a smart-ass, but I'd like to know more after reading your comment than I did before.

Well, the submission itself has a section entitled "Institutions". Institutional economics is a field of economics that studies the impact of the strength, stability and overall design of "institutions", in the widest possible sense, on economic activity. Stuff like the impact of the credibility and strength of property rights or the impact of minority rule, for instance, goes in here.

Growth theory, or rather development economics, studies how and why wealth grows. And here go ... pretty much any economic growth models. I really don't know how else to say it.

Finally, an institutional approach to development economics studies how institutions might cause nations either grow or not, depending on their institutions, and the guys who kick-started this approach were Daron Acemoglu of MIT and James Robinson, of Chicago University. They have a book on it called "Why Nations Fail", released in 2012, which has already been recommended by another commenter. Their main thesis being that certain patterns of colonialism induce certain patterns of institutions, which they call "extractive", by which a minority appropriates most of a country's wealth for itself, while setting the country on a low growth path. The classic example being a resource-based economy under either a minority or authoritarian rule.

If this all sounds really general, that's because it is. I haven't read much on institutional economics, much less on the economics of colonialism. But I know it's out there.

Bravo, thank you.

LOL. And there we have the academic misdirection while brushing it under the carpet.

Well check the section about Korea, look at South Korea now.

Or East vs West Germany.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact