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Growth, Stagnation or Retrogression? On the Accuracy of Economic Observations, Tanzania, 1961–2001

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  • Morten Jerven

Abstract

Statistics on African economic growth are widely known to be inaccurate, but the extent and nature of these inaccuracies and their implications for the users of the data have not been rigorously assessed. This article investigates measurement issues of economic growth in post-colonial Tanzania. It is shown here that conclusions on Tanzania's development performance are conditioned by selection of the source of growth evidence. The article argues for an agnostic perspective on Tanzanian economic growth. Modelling efforts of African growth are more sophisticated than the quality of the data justifies. The policy implications are clear. For producers, there needs to be stronger investment into data collection in African economies, and for users, greater caution utilised in quantitative macro studies. Copyright 2011 , Oxford University Press.

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  • Morten Jerven, 2011. "Growth, Stagnation or Retrogression? On the Accuracy of Economic Observations, Tanzania, 1961–2001," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 20(3), pages 377-394, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:20:y:2011:i:3:p:377-394
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/jae/ejr003
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    Cited by:

    1. Jerven, Morten & Austin, Gareth & Green, Erik & Uche, Chibuike & Frankema, Ewout & Fourie, Johan & Inikori, Joseph & Moradi, Alexander & Hillbom, Ellen, 2012. "Moving Forward in African Economic History. Bridging the Gap Between Methods and Sources," Lund Papers in Economic History 124, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    2. Arndt Channing & Demery Lionel & McKay Andrew & Tarp Finn, 2015. "Growth and Poverty Reduction in Tanzania," WIDER Working Paper Series 051, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Oasis Kodila-Tedika, 2014. "Africa's statistical tragedy: best statistics, best government effectiveness," International Journal of Development Issues, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 13(2), pages 171-178, July.
    4. 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.
    5. Jerven, Morten, 2014. "African growth miracle or statistical tragedy? Interpreting trends in the data over the past two decades," WIDER Working Paper Series 114, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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