What Were the Economic Causes of New Imperialism?

Some of the economic causes of new imperialism included the Marxist theory that governments wished to explore overseas areas to please the capitalists at home and the desire to acquire raw materials to boost industrialization efforts at home. Social scientists looking at this issue may also argue that new imperialism was a means of distracting the poor from periods of recession and depression.

One Marxist theory of new imperialism is that governments were striving to keep the rich at home happy. Marx believed that the rich controlled the government and its economics, which meant it was in the government's interests to explore new lands and acquire wealth. Another is that European imperialist powers needed raw materials to push industrialization forward. While many countries had the man power and machinery to continue with mass production, they did not have the materials. In contrast, the developing world did, which gave them an economic driver for colonization.

Some of the less popular theories include the idea that countries experiencing periods of economic recession needed a way to distract the population. Imperialism offered a sense of greatness, which the population felt the need to support. In addition, some Marxists believed that businesspeople recognized the financial potential of exploiting countries where labor and material costs were low.