IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/exehis/v83y2022ics0014498321000462.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

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

Author

Listed:
  • 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
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014498321000462
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.eeh.2021.101424?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Frankema, Ewout & Williamson, Jeffrey & Woltjer, Pieter, 2018. "An Economic Rationale for the West African Scramble? The Commercial Transition and the Commodity Price Boom of 1835–1885," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 78(1), pages 231-267, March.
    2. Frankema, Ewout & Green, Erik & Hillbom, Ellen, 2016. "Endogenous Processes Of Colonial Settlement. The Success And Failure Of European Settler Farming In Sub-Saharan Africa," Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(2), pages 237-265, September.
    3. Feinstein,Charles H., 2005. "An Economic History of South Africa," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521616416.
    4. Broadberry, Stephen, 2021. "Accounting for the Great Divergence: Recent Findings from Historical National Accounting," CEPR Discussion Papers 15936, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Johan Fourie & Jan Luiten Zanden, 2013. "GDP in the Dutch Cape Colony: The National Accounts of a Slave-Based Society," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 81(4), pages 467-490, December.
    6. Frankema, Ewout & Waijenburg, Marlous Van, 2012. "Structural Impediments to African Growth? New Evidence from Real Wages in British Africa, 1880–1965," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(4), pages 895-926, December.
    7. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521868273.
    8. Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 2012. "Output Per Head In Pre-Independence Africa: Quantitative Conjectures," Economic History of Developing Regions, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(2), pages 1-36, December.
    9. Bassino, Jean-Pascal & Broadberry, Stephen & Fukao, Kyoji & Gupta, Bishnupriya & Takashima, Masanori, 2019. "Japan and the great divergence, 730–1874," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 1-22.
    10. Andersson, M. & Axelsson, T. & Palacio, A., 2021. "Resilience to economic shrinking in an emerging economy: the role of social capabilities in Indonesia, 1950–2015 – ADDENDUM," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(3), pages 527-527, June.
    11. Juif, Dã Cil & Frankema, Ewout, 2018. "From coercion to compensation: institutional responses to labour scarcity in the Central African Copperbelt," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 313-343, April.
    12. Kenneth Harttgen & Stephan Klasen & Sebastian Vollmer, 2013. "An African Growth Miracle? Or: What do Asset Indices Tell Us About Trends in Economic Performance?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59, pages 37-61, October.
    13. Carlos Álvarez-Nogal & Leandro Prados De La Escosura, 2013. "The rise and fall of Spain (1270–1850)," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(1), pages 1-37, February.
    14. Deaton,Angus & Muellbauer,John, 1980. "Economics and Consumer Behavior," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521296762.
    15. Broadberry, Stephen & Wallis, John, 2017. "Growing, Shrinking and Long Run Economic Performance: Historical Perspectives on Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 11973, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Bouis, Howarth E., 1994. "The effect of income on demand for food in poor countries: Are our food consumption databases giving us reliable estimates?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 199-226, June.
    17. Tarek M Harchaouia & Murat Üngörb, 2018. "The Lion on the Move Towards the World Frontier: Catching Up or Remaining Stuck?," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 27(3), pages 366-366.
    18. N. F. R. Crafts, 1976. "English Economic Growth in the Eighteenth Century: A Re-Examination of Deane and Cole's Estimates," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 29(2), pages 226-235, May.
    19. Frankema, Ewout, 2021. "Why Africa is not that poor," African Economic History Working Paper 61/2021, African Economic History Network.
    20. Alwyn Young, 2012. "The African Growth Miracle," NBER Working Papers 18490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. North,Douglass C. & Wallis,John Joseph & Weingast,Barry R., 2013. "Violence and Social Orders," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107646995.
    22. Andersson, Martin, 2018. "Resilience to Economic Shrinking: A Social Capability Approach to Processes of Catching up in the Developing World 1951-2016," Lund Papers in Economic History 183, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    23. Lant Pritchett, 1997. "Divergence, Big Time," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 3-17, Summer.
    24. Aboagye, Prince Young & Bolt, Jutta, 2021. "Long-term trends in income inequality: Winners and losers of economic change in Ghana, 1891–1960," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    25. Gardner, Leigh A., 2012. "Taxing Colonial Africa: The Political Economy of British Imperialism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199661527.
    26. Sachs, Jeffrey D & Warner, Andrew M, 1997. "Sources of Slow Growth in African Economies," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 6(3), pages 335-376, October.
    27. Shantayanan Devarajan, 2013. "Africa's Statistical Tragedy," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59, pages 9-15, October.
    28. Ellen Hillbom & Jutta Bolt, 2018. "Botswana – A Modern Economic History," Palgrave Studies in Economic History, Palgrave Macmillan, number 978-3-319-73144-5, December.
    29. Alwyn Young, 2012. "The African Growth Miracle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(4), pages 696-739.
    30. Allen, Robert C., 2000. "Economic structure and agricultural productivity in Europe, 1300–1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 1-25, April.
    31. Ewout Frankema & Morten Jerven, 2014. "Writing history backwards or sideways: towards a consensus on African population, 1850–2010," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(4), pages 907-931, November.
    32. Gareth Austin & Stephen Broadberry, 2014. "Introduction: The renaissance of African economic history," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(4), pages 893-906, November.
    33. Grier, Kevin B. & Grier, Robin M., 2021. "The Washington consensus works: Causal effects of reform, 1970-2015," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 59-72.
    34. Andersson, Martin & Axelsson, Tobias & Palacio, Andrés, 2021. "Resilience to economic shrinking in an emerging economy: the role of social capabilities in Indonesia, 1950–2015," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(3), pages 509-526, June.
    35. Michiel Haas, 2017. "Measuring rural welfare in colonial Africa: did Uganda's smallholders thrive?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 70(2), pages 605-631, May.
    36. Feinstein,Charles H., 2005. "An Economic History of South Africa," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521850919.
    37. Belinda Archibong & Brahima Coulibaly & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, 2021. "Washington Consensus Reforms and Lessons for Economic Performance in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 133-156, Summer.
    38. Morten Jerven, 2014. "A West African experiment: constructing a GDP series for colonial Ghana, 1891–1950," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(4), pages 964-992, November.
    39. Frankema, Ewout, 2015. "The Biogeographic Roots of World Inequality: Animals, Disease, and Human Settlement Patterns in Africa and the Americas Before 1492," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 274-285.
    40. Malanima, Paolo, 2011. "The long decline of a leading economy: GDP in central and northern Italy, 1300–1913," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 169-219, August.
    41. Johan Fourie, 2013. "The remarkable wealth of the Dutch Cape Colony: measurements from eighteenth-century probate inventories," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(2), pages 419-448, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Víctor Hugo Fernández-Bedoya & Monica Elisa Meneses-La-Riva & Josefina Amanda Suyo-Vega & Johanna de Jesús Stephanie Gago-Chávez, 2023. "Entrepreneurship Research in Times of COVID-19: Experiences from South America," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(7), pages 1-17, March.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Broadberry, Stephen & Gardner, Leigh, 2019. "Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1885-2008," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 425, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. Stephen Broadberry & Leigh Gardner, 2019. "Economic Growth In Sub-Saharan Africa, 1885-2008," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _169, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    3. Broadberry, Stephen & Custodis, Johann & Gupta, Bishnupriya, 2015. "India and the great divergence: An Anglo-Indian comparison of GDP per capita, 1600–1871," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 58-75.
    4. Broadberry, Stephen & Gardner, Leigh, 2016. "Economic Development In Africa And Europe: Reciprocal Comparisons," Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(1), pages 11-37, March.
    5. Broadberry, Stephen & Gardner, Leigh, 2014. "African economic growth in a European mirror: a historical perspective," Economic History Working Papers 56493, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    6. Johan Fourie & Nonso Obikili, 2019. "Decolonizing with data: The cliometric turn in African economic history," Working Papers 02/2019, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    7. Bassino, Jean-Pascal & Broadberry, Stephen & Fukao, Kyoji & Gupta, Bishnupriya & Takashima, Masanori, 2019. "Japan and the great divergence, 730–1874," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 1-22.
    8. Gareth Austin & Stephen Broadberry, 2014. "Introduction: The renaissance of African economic history," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(4), pages 893-906, November.
    9. Broadberry, Stephen, 2021. "Accounting for the Great Divergence: Recent Findings from Historical National Accounting," CEPR Discussion Papers 15936, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Jerven, Morten, 2019. "African Economic Growth 1900-50: Historical National Accounts for British Colonial Africa," African Economic History Working Paper 50/2019, African Economic History Network.
    11. Stephen Broadberry, 2022. "British economic growth and development," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _203, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    12. Broadberry, Stephen, 2020. "The Industrial Revolution and the Great Divergence: Recent Findings from Historical National Accounting," CEPR Discussion Papers 15207, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Broadberry, Stephen & Gardner, Leigh, 2013. "Africa's Growth Prospects in a European mirror: a Historical Perspective," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 172, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    14. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2013. "Human development in Africa: A long-run perspective," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-204.
    15. Gareth Austin & Ewout Frankema & Ewout Morten Jerven, 2015. "Patterns of Manufacturing Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa: From Colonization to the Present," Working Papers 0071, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    16. Federico Tadei, 2022. "Colonizer identity and trade in Africa: Were the British more favourable to free trade?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 75(2), pages 561-578, May.
    17. Broadberry, Stephen & Ghosal, Sayantan & Proto, Eugenio, 2017. "Anonymity, efficiency wages and technological progress," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 379-394.
    18. Broadberry, Stephen & Ghosal, Sayantan & Proto, Eugenio, 2011. "Is Anonymity the Missing Link Between Commercial and Industrial Revolution?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 974, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    19. Jedwab, Remi & Vollrath, Dietrich, 2015. "Urbanization without growth in historical perspective," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 1-21.
    20. Carlos Álvarez-Nogal & Leandro Prados De La Escosura, 2013. "The rise and fall of Spain (1270–1850)," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(1), pages 1-37, February.

    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

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:83:y:2022:i:c:s0014498321000462. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.