Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 496215
Title Colonial adventures in tropical agriculture : new estimates of returns to investment in the Netherlands Indies, 1919–1938
Author(s) Buelens, Frans; Frankema, Ewout
Source Cliometrica 10 (2016)2. - ISSN 1863-2505 - p. 197 - 224.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11698-015-0128-z
Department(s) Rural and Environmental History
WASS
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2016
Keyword(s) Colonial economy - FDI - Netherlands Indies - Returns to investment - Tropical agriculture
Abstract

How profitable were foreign investments in plantation agriculture in the Netherlands Indies during the late colonial era? We use a new dataset of monthly quoted stock prices and dividends of international companies at the Brussels stock exchange to estimate the returns to investment in tropical agriculture (1919–1938). We adopt the Dimson–March–Staunton method to compute real geometric annual average rates of return and assess our estimates in an international comparative perspective. We find that returns to colonial FDI in the Netherlands Indies during 1919–1928 were impressive (14.3 %), being almost 3 percentage points higher than the world average. In the following decade 1929–1938 fortunes reversed, with a rate of return of −2.8 % compared to a world average of 2.2 %. Over the entire period the returns to colonial FDI (5.4 % in 1919–1938) were about a factor 2.5 higher than returns to investment in the Dutch domestic economy (2.1 % in 1920–1939). We argue that these returns should be interpreted in a colonial context of systematic labour repression, but that they may also partly reflect a higher risk-premium of investments in colonial commodities.

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