From Miser to Spendthrift Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • There is a stereotype that European powers did little to improve the housing of those they colonized. The late colonial experience of Barbados probes and challenges this view. In a poor and isolated colony dominated by conservative white planters, a miserly colonial administration had for decades done little or nothing to improve housing. Faced with local unrest and international pressure from the United States, however, and enabled by Colonial Development funds as well as a levy on sugar exports to Britain, it developed a range of government (public) housing programs in the 1940s. By 1960, the colony had directly improved housing for about 30 percent of the island's population. Its building program was efficiently run, but influenced by a rising group of nationalist politicians, its financial viability was undermined by a lax approach to rent collection. The policy shift from miser to spendthrift reflects the growing vulnerability of colonial rule.

publication date

  • March 2007