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Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics: Calculating the Size of Indonesia’s Colonial Surplus in the Cultivation System, 1831‐1877

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Having defined the Colonial Surplus, this paper re-estimates it for Indonesia during the Cultivation System of 1831‐1877. Having questioned the standard figures for the positive balance (batig slot) and estimates from the Indies Balance of Payments of the colonial surplus, it rejects them as being much too low because their method of calculating exports is incorrect. Thereafter, it investigates recently-compiled primary data from the Netherlands Trading Company, from the latest Netherlands Balance of Payments, and from the Indies government product sales. It concludes that their data are more reliable and give a new estimate for the total colonial surplus during this period, up to four times higher than the standard estimates.

Affiliations: 1: Chulalongkorn University


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