The Oxford History of the British Empire - Vol. 3

By William Roger Louis; Andrew Porter et al. | Go to book overview

descendants, financed (over and above local accumulation) from Britain, subject to British jurisdiction, and accepting British sovereignty. While these self-governing societies only received about a tenth of British exports, the Antipodes at least depended absolutely on Britain for their markets. At the end of the period, overseas 'New Britannias' added, as we have seen, almost 40 per cent to British GNP, dwarfing any other actual contribution of Empire to welfare in the British Isles alone. Their inhabitants may not have been more wealthy than Britons on the average, but manual workers (the majority) were much better off in terms of wages and status, and lived in more equal societies. The overseas, English-speaking, natural resource economy absorbed millions of migrants from Britain. In reality at the end of the nineteenth century the Dominions were extensions of the British Isles, tied to Britain by a web of kinship, investment, and trade, and by the political institutions of Empire which still had a binding force. Had there been no Empire, these territories would not have remained undeveloped. Settlers would have come from elsewhere in Europe, North America, or even Asia. This would have been a loss to the people of Britain, and perhaps (given these countries' democratic instincts and their internal stability), a loss to global welfare. These societies became British instead, and were still substantially so in 1914.


Selected Bibliography

MICHAEL BARRATT BROWN, Economics of Imperialism (Harmondsworth, 1974).

LANCE E. DAVIS and ROBERT A. HUTTENBACK, with the assistance of SUSAN GRAY DAVIS , Mammon and the Pursuit of Empire: The Political Economy of British Imperialism, 1860-1912 ( Cambridge, 1986).

MICHAEL EDELSTEIN, Overseas Investment in the Age of High Imperialism ( New York, 1982).

C. H. FEINSTEIN, National Income, Expenditure and Output of the United Kingdom, 1855-1965 ( Cambridge, 1972).

HERBERT FEIS, Europe: The World's Banker, 1870-1914 ( New Haven, 1930).

D. K. FILEDHOUSE, Economics and the Empire ( London, 1973).

JAMES FOREMAN-PECK, "'Foreign Investment and Imperial Exploitation: Balance of Payments Reconstruction for Nineteenth-Century Britain and India'", Economic History Review, XLII, ( 1989), pp. 365-72.

A. R. HALL, ed., The Export of Capital from Britain, 1870-1914 ( London, 1968).

C. K. HOBSON, The Export of Capital ( London, 1914).

JOHN A. HOBSON, Imperialism: A Study ( 1902; 3rd ed., London, 1938).

J. M. HOBSON, "'The Military-Extraction Gap and the Wary Titan: The Fiscal Sociology of British Defence Policy, 1870-1914'", European Economic History Review, XXII, 3 ( 1993), pp. 461-507.

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