Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy > Vol 3 > Issue 2

Liberation Wars as Critical Junctures: Colonial Heritage and the Persistence of Inequality

Vladimir Chlouba, Department of Political Science, The Ohio State University, USA,
Suggested Citation
Vladimir Chlouba (2022), "Liberation Wars as Critical Junctures: Colonial Heritage and the Persistence of Inequality", Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy: Vol. 3: No. 2, pp 149-181.

Publication Date: 28 Jun 2022
© 2022 V. Chlouba
Civil conflict,  Political economy,  Political history
Inequalityliberation warsettler colonialismAlgeriaNamibia


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In this article:
Liberation Wars as Critical Junctures 
Quantitative Evidence 
Qualitative Evidence: Algeria and Namibia 


Under what conditions do the distributional legacies of settler colonialism persist? Much of past research has operated under the assumption that differing colonial experiences constituted critical junctures whose effects have more often than not endured. Analysts have pointed to settler colonialism as a crucial determinant of present levels of income inequality in former settler colonies. However, a closer look at historical data suggests that while legacies of settler colonialism do predict higher levels of inequality at independence, they do not preclude the possibility of subsequent critical junctures that can alter present-day outcomes. In this paper, I argue that former colonies that achieved independence through non-settler led independence wars enjoy substantially lower levels of inequality. The implied mechanism is destruction of settler-established property rights. In countries where indigenous elites defeated settler interests on the battlefield, liberation wars often precipitated transformative social revolutions.