Returns
Realising the human capital economy
in Human capital and empire
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The chapter analyses the return phase of the cycle of human capital. It charts the arrival back in Britain and Ireland of personnel and capital and what impact these made upon political, economic and social factors across Wales, Ireland and Scotland. In the area of politics, profits made in the eastern half of the Empire began influencing electoral developments by the 1760s. However, overall, the impact was uneven, with only small numbers of Welsh and Irish constituencies affected compared to the more substantial presence of East India Company wealth in politics in Scotland. The scale of overall Scots, Irish and Welsh profits reflected the different profiles inside the Company and its associated free-trade economies. Over £5 million can be traced for 345 Scots, with ninety-two elite Irish sojourners securing over £2.1 million. These amounts demonstrate the effectiveness of human capital in enriching conventionally ‘poor’ societies. The chapter considers the ways in which imperial wealth was reabsorbed into society through processes of estate purchasing, agrarian and manufacturing improvements and lending. With so many more Scots involved in the civil service, merchant marine, military and in private trade, the impact was more intense and regionally dispersed in Scotland. Twenty-one estates have been identified has having been purchased in Wales, sixty-eight in Ireland and 347 in Scotland. These differences partly reflect greater Scottish involvement and the more accessible nature of land records. The chapter concludes with a series of case studies showing the use of Asia-derived wealth in civic and economic improvements.

Human capital and empire

Scotland, Ireland, Wales and British imperialism in Asia, c.1690–c.1820

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