Working paper
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Measuring colonial extraction: the east India company's rule and the drain of wealth (1757-1858)

Number of pages47
PublisherGeneva : Paul Bairoch Institute of Economic History
  • Working Papers of the Paul Bairoch Institute of Economic History; 5/2020
Publication date2020

This paper revisits the relationship between capitalism and colonialism by examining the case of British India under East India Company rule (1757-1858). The Marxist-nationalist historiography claims that colonialism generated a steady drain of wealth and that this drain was responsible for Indian famines, poverty, inequality, and economic retardation. I use the East India Company budgets to measure the extent of the wealth that was drained through three direct channels: oppressive land taxes, unproductive expenditures on the imperial army and civil administration, and the unrequited export of commodities from India to Britain. I conclude that available figures lend empirical support to the Marxist interpretation. There was a drain of wealth, and its effect on the underdevelopment of former European colonies deserves further research.

  • India
  • Colonialism
  • Drain of wealth
  • East India Company
  • Marxism
  • JEL : B14
Citation (ISO format)
NOGUES-MARCO, Pilar. Measuring colonial extraction: the east India company’s rule and the drain of wealth (1757-1858). 2020
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Working paper
  • PID : unige:144406

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