This survey has considered the economic history of the Caribbean under three headings: slavery, adjustments to emancipation, and problems of economic development. On each subject there has been progress, although unresolved problems still remain. Caribbean plantation slavery, it seems, had a greater adaptability than was once supposed; nevertheless external pressures undoubtedly weighed heavily upon it in the early nineteenth century, and more research will be needed, especially at the level of the individual property and for the Spanish islands, to clarify the planters’ position. The estates’ adjustments to emancipation were determined by a mixture of coercion and technical innovation, but the interaction between these two elements has not yet been completely understood. Over the longer term, the continuation of sugar planting was probably helpful to general economic development, but this judgement depends upon a complicated balance of costs and benefits.
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