A paper on the effect of colonial rule in India, comparing areas ruled directly by the British against the indirectly ruled ones:
This paper compares economic outcomes across areas in India which were under di- rect British colonial rule with areas which were under indirect colonial rule. Controlling for selective annexation using a specific policy rule, I find that areas which experienced direct rule have significantly lower levels of access to schools, health centers and roads in the post-colonial period. I find evidence that the quality of governance in the colonial period has a significant persistent effect on post-colonial outcomes.
A recent book on Colonial India had pointed out that the gdp per capita for the average Indian fell by over 50% during the colonial period, which also suggests that Colonial rule was not quite peaches and cream for the toiling masses. Of course, the Mughal era before colonial rule wasn’t particularly better. The Mughal’s spent their empire building huge tombs and palaces, and the British did practically the same, except on an island far away with their Indian wealth.
Bill Bryson’s recent book, At Home looks at the history of the home, with a emphasis on Britain and the many stately homes there, and it’s amazing how many, if not practically all, are founded on colonial wealth. Most historys I’ve read primarily look at the areas ruled, and less at the vast changes brought by onto the rulers homes, so this book was interesting from that perspective, beside the fact that Bryson is an amazing writer. Of course, Britain’s excesses were funded from other colonies as well, but the largest by far in terms of money is Colonial India.
A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World has some interesting statistics on the poor world, and agrees with the author of the paper that outside interventions aren’t good for economic development.
I’ve found a lot of people in Pakistan who point to the infrastructure built by the British as the best thing to happen to the subcontinent since sliced bread. It seems that the majority of that infrastructure was built to serve the British and the local elite they used to run the subcontinent and not for the benefit for the masses, and that’s what that infrastructure is still largely used for today. Britain’s most enduring legacy seems to be the colonial mindset and legal structure putt in place to ensure a top down ruling structure, which is very much intact here.