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Colonial Legacies

Colonial Legacies: Economic and Social Development in East and Southeast Asia

Anne E. Booth
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    Colonial Legacies
    Book Description:

    It is well known that Taiwan and South Korea, both former Japanese colonies, achieved rapid growth and industrialization after 1960. The performance of former European and American colonies (Malaysia, Singapore, Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines) has been less impressive. Some scholars have attributed the difference to better infrastructure and greater access to education in Japan’s colonies. Anne Booth examines and critiques such arguments in this ambitious comparative study of economic development in East and Southeast Asia from the beginning of the twentieth century until the 1960s. Booth takes an in-depth look at the nature and consequences of colonial policies for a wide range of factors, including the growth of export-oriented agriculture and the development of manufacturing industry. She evaluates the impact of colonial policies on the growth and diversification of the market economy and on the welfare of indigenous populations. Indicators such as educational enrollments, infant mortality rates, and crude death rates are used to compare living standards across East and Southeast Asia in the 1930s. Her analysis of the impact that Japan’s Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere and later invasion and conquest had on the region and the living standards of its people leads to a discussion of the painful and protracted transition to independence following Japan’s defeat. Throughout Booth emphasizes the great variety of economic and social policies pursued by the various colonial governments and the diversity of outcomes. Lucidly and accessibly written, Colonial Legacies offers a balanced and elegantly nuanced exploration of a complex historical reality. It will be a lasting contribution to scholarship on the modern economic history of East and Southeast Asia and of special interest to those concerned with the dynamics of development and the history of colonial regimes.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6192-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    This book attempts a comparative study of the economic and social development of colonial territories in East and Southeast Asia in the first four decades of the twentieth century and of the consequences of that development for the transition to independence after 1945. At the beginning of the twentieth century, five colonial powers were active in East and Southeast Asia. Three were European. The British controlled from Delhi the vast South Asian subcontinent that extended from the Khyber Pass in the west to the borders of Burma with China, and with the independent Kingdom of Thailand in the east. In...

  2. CHAPTER 2 Economic Growth and Structural Change: 1900–1940
    (pp. 18-34)

    By the end of the 1930s, the population of colonial Southeast Asia together with independent Thailand amounted to around 150 million people. The population of Korea and Taiwan together came to almost 30 million. By the 1930s, all colonial governments had carried out population censuses and were also collecting a range of other data on landholdings, employment, and literacy. It is therefore possible to estimate with reasonable accuracy population growth during the early decades of the twentieth century (Table 2.1). Everywhere in East and Southeast Asia growth rates exceeded 1 percent per annum, and in Thailand, the Philippines, and British...

  3. CHAPTER 3 Agricultural Expansion, Population Growth, and Access to Land
    (pp. 35-66)

    It was pointed out in Chapter 1 that the vent for surplus theory has been widely used by economists to explain the rapid growth in production for export in several parts of Southeast Asia from 1870 onward. A crucial assumption of this theory and the models derived from it was that “land suitable for the cultivation of food is not a scarce factor” (Findlay and Lundhal 1994: 89). In his discussion of the applicability of the vent for surplus theory to West Africa, Hopkins emphasized three further implications of the theory: “the massive growth in the volume of exports was...

  4. CHAPTER 4 What Were Colonial Governments Doing? The Myth of the Night Watchman State
    (pp. 67-87)

    One influential view of the role of government in colonial territories was put forward by Morris in the context of nineteenth century India: “Government policy during the nineteenth century, despite its authoritarian characteristics, was in its economic aspects essentiallylaissez faire.The Britishrajsaw itself in the passive role of night watchman, providing security, rational administration, and a modicum of social overhead on the basis of which economic progress was expected to occur. The Indian government obviously had no self-conscious programme of active economic development” (1963: 615).

    In a footnote, Morris pointed out that while the British certainly felt...

  5. CHAPTER 5 International Trade, Balance of Payments, and Exchange Rate Policies: 1900–1940
    (pp. 88-111)

    As we saw in Chapter 1, the open dualistic model developed by Paauw and Fei and others stressed that earning profits in and remitting them from the export enclave was an integral part of the operation of colonial economies in Asia and indeed elsewhere. One consequence was that large commodity export surpluses were sustained, often over long periods of time, that were only partly offset by deficits in services. Thus the current account of the balance of payments was expected to be in surplus. A further consequence of the model was that the colonial export enclaves were tightly tethered to...

  6. CHAPTER 6 Growth and Diversification of the Market Economy
    (pp. 112-130)

    Since the 1960s, many observers have pointed to the apparent ease with which a successful indigenous entrepreneurial class emerged in both Taiwan and South Korea, which was, in only a few decades, able to build up successful firms that rapidly made inroads into world markets for a range of manufactured products. This success has been contrasted with the apparent failure of indigenous entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia, where it has been argued that much of the industrial growth since the 1960s has been the result of foreign investment. Where local industrialists have emerged in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, they...

  7. CHAPTER 7 Changing Living Standards and Human Development
    (pp. 131-147)

    It is widely recognized by economic historians that trends in per capita GDP are not by themselves reliable guides to changes in living standards. It is indeed possible for economies to grow in per capita terms over a period of years or even decades with very little evidence of an improvement in living standards on the part of the majority of the population, especially those in the lower income groups. There are several reasons for this. First, economic growth often confers much greater benefits on some groups in society compared with others; in particular in the early stages of capitalism,...

  8. CHAPTER 8 The Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere: 1942–1945
    (pp. 148-163)

    During the 1930s, both Korea and Taiwan experienced faster economic growth than the Southeast Asian colonies, whose economies were subject to the full force of the world slump of the early 1930s. But even allowing for the growth slowdown in much of Southeast Asia, the evidence does not support the argument that living standards in either Taiwan or Korea were markedly higher than in the Philippines, British Malaya, or even Thailand in the latter part of the 1930s. By then, the economies of both Taiwan and Korea were tightly integrated into the Japanese military-industrial complex, and after Pearl Harbor and...

  9. CHAPTER 9 The Transition to Independent States
    (pp. 164-195)

    Few observers surveying the economic plight of the former colonies of East and Southeast Asia in 1945, or indeed in 1950, could have been very optimistic about their futures. Apart from the devastation of infrastructure brought about by Allied bombing, accelerating inflation, and severe shortages of food and other basic needs, the populations of both the European and Japanese colonies were alienated from their former colonial masters, and, especially among the young, there was a growing desire to acquire more control over their own destinies. But how was this to be done in a world that was rapidly becoming polarized...

  10. CHAPTER 10 Conclusions
    (pp. 196-204)

    Much of the literature on economic development in East and Southeast Asia written during the 1970s and 1980s tended to emphasize the economic policies adopted by the different governments that came to power in the postindependence era. Most economists wanting to explain the rapid growth of Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore from 1960 onward focused particularly on macroeconomic and exchange rate policies and on reforms of the trade regime. It was argued that prudent fiscal and monetary policies reduced inflation and permitted governments to improve infrastructure and expand access to education, while the exchange rate regime and “open-type”...