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Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1885–2008: Evidence from eight countries

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  • Broadberry, Stephen
  • Gardner, Leigh

Abstract

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has been absent from recent debates about comparative long-run growth owing to the lack of data on aggregate economic performance before 1950. This paper provides estimates of GDP per capita on an annual basis for eight Anglophone African economies for the period since 1885, raising new questions about previous characterizations of the region's economic performance. The new data show that many of these economies had levels of per capita income which were above subsistence by the early twentieth century, on a par with the largest economies in Asia until the 1980s. However, overall improvements in GDP per capita were limited by episodes of negative growth or “shrinking”, the scale and scope of which can be measured through annual data.

Suggested Citation

  • Broadberry, Stephen & Gardner, Leigh, 2022. "Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1885–2008: Evidence from eight countries," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:83:y:2022:i:c:s0014498321000462
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2021.101424
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    GDP per capita; Economic growth; Africa; Shrinking;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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