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Plunder in the post-colonial era: quantifying drain from the global south through unequal exchange, 1960–2018

Hickel, Jason, Sullivan, Dylan and Zoomkawala, Huzaifa (2021) Plunder in the post-colonial era: quantifying drain from the global south through unequal exchange, 1960–2018. New Political Economy, 26 (6). 1030 - 1047. ISSN 1356-3467

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Identification Number: 10.1080/13563467.2021.1899153

Abstract

This paper quantifies drain from the global South through unequal exchange since 1960. According to our primary method, which relies on exchange-rate differentials, we find that in the most recent year of data the global North (‘advanced economies’) appropriated from the South commodities worth $2.2 trillion in Northern prices — enough to end extreme poverty 15 times over. Over the whole period, drain from the South totalled $62 trillion (constant 2011 dollars), or $152 trillion when accounting for lost growth. Appropriation through unequal exchange represents up to 7% of Northern GDP and 9% of Southern GDP. We also test several alternative methods, for comparison: we quantify unequal exchange in terms of wage differentials instead of exchange-rate differentials, and report drain in global average prices as well as Northern prices. Regardless of the method, we find that the intensity of exploitation and the scale of unequal exchange increased significantly during the structural adjustment period of the 1980s and 1990s. This study affirms that drain from the South remains a significant feature of the world economy in the post-colonial era; rich countries continue to rely on imperial forms of appropriation to sustain their high levels of income and consumption.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/journals/cnpe20
Additional Information: © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Divisions: Anthropology
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2022 14:18
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2022 10:09
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/114964

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