IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/wly/jintdv/v20y2008i8p1049-1079.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Measuring and explaining poverty in six African countries: A long-period approach

Author

Listed:
  • Sue Bowden

    (Department of Economics and Centre for Historical Economics, The University of York, York, UK)

  • Blessing Chiripanhura

    (The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

  • Paul Mosley

    (The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Abstract

In this paper, we create the beginnings of a database on indicators of poverty and deprivation in six African countries over the last 100 years, with the intention of explaining the long-term trend of policy. We argue that an important key to those trends is provided by the decision during the first decades of the twentieth century to allow, or not to allow, the occupation of agricultural land by European settlers. If allowed (as in the white settler-controlled economies of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya, where Africans were squeezed out of income-earning opportunities by competition and prohibition until the 1960s at least) the legacy, we show, was a lack of bargaining power by Africans in the labour market, a real wage static at the subsistence level until late in the century, a highly unequal income distribution, and a small asset base from which to reduce poverty during the liberalisations of the 1980s and 1990s. If forbidden, as in the peasant-export economies of Ghana and Uganda (and to some extent Ethiopia), the legacy was a floor under the labour market, from the 1920s on, which could serve as a basis for poverty-reducing reforms in later years. Thus the potential for poverty reduction during the current 'poverty reduction wave' was indeed determined by the historical inheritance of institutions and policies, in particular settlement policies; but in a quite different way from that adumbrated by the recent analysis of Acemoglu et al. (2001). In their analysis, colonies with a high density of European occupation in colonial times persistently generate higher growth potential in later years; we argue the reverse. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Sue Bowden & Blessing Chiripanhura & Paul Mosley, 2008. "Measuring and explaining poverty in six African countries: A long-period approach," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(8), pages 1049-1079.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:20:y:2008:i:8:p:1049-1079
    DOI: 10.1002/jid.1512
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/jid.1512
    File Function: Link to full text; subscription required
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. N. F. R. Crafts, 1997. "Some Dimensions of the ‘Quality of Life’ During the British Industrial Revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 50(4), pages 617-639, November.
    2. Timothy Besley & Louise J. Cord, 2007. "Delivering on the Promise of Pro-Poor Growth : Insights and Lessons from Country Experiences," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7180.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    4. Barro, Robert J, 2000. "Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
    5. Kristin J. Forbes, 2000. "A Reassessment of the Relationship between Inequality and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 869-887, September.
    6. Fishlow, Albert, 1972. "Brazilian Size Distribution of Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(2), pages 391-402, 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. Papaioannou, Kostadis J. & de Haas, Michiel, 2017. "Weather Shocks and Agricultural Commercialization in Colonial Tropical Africa: Did Cash Crops Alleviate Social Distress?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 346-365.
    2. 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.
    3. Paul Mosley, 2013. "Two Africas? Why Africa’s ‘Growth Miracle’ is barely reducing poverty," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 19113, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
    4. 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.
    5. Fenske, James, 2014. "Trees, tenure and conflict: Rubber in colonial Benin," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 226-238.
    6. 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.
    7. Alexander Moradi, 2008. "Confronting colonial legacies-lessons from human development in Ghana and Kenya, 1880-2000," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(8), pages 1107-1121.
    8. Richens, Peter, 2009. "The economic legacies of the ‘thin white line’: indirect rule and the comparative development of sub-Saharan Africa," Economic History Working Papers 27879, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    9. 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(04), pages 895-926, December.
    10. Ewout Frankema & Marlous van Waijenburg, 2011. "African Real Wages in Asian Perspective, 1880-1940," Working Papers 0002, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    11. Carlos Pestana Barros & Otavio Henrique dos Santos Figueiredo & Peter Fernades Wanke, 2016. "Peasants’ Poverty and Inequality in Angola," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(2), pages 751-761, September.
    12. Maravall Buckwalter, Laura, 2017. "Factor Endowments and Farm Structure : Algerian Settler Agriculture During the First Globalization (1870-1914)," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH 26085, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    13. Pim de Zwart, 2011. "Real wages at the Cape of Good Hope: A long-term perspective, 1652-1912," Working Papers 0013, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    14. Bolt, Jutta & Green, Erik, 2014. "Was the wage burden too heavy? Profitability and wage shares of settler agriculture in colonial Malawi, c 1900-1960," Lund Papers in Economic History 134, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    15. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis, 2013. "Esclavagisme et colonisation : Quelles conséquences contemporaines en Afrique ? - Résumé critique des travaux de l'économiste Nathan Nunn
      [Slavery and colonization: What contemporary consequences i
      ," MPRA Paper 43732, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. 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.
    17. Gareth Austin, 2008. "The 'reversal of fortune' thesis and the compression of history: Perspectives from African and comparative economic history," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(8), pages 996-1027.
    18. Gareth Austin, 2014. "Vent for surplus or productivity breakthrough? The Ghanaian cocoa take-off, c. 1890–1936," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(4), pages 1035-1064, November.
    19. Sue Bowden & Paul Mosley, 2012. "Politics, Public Expenditure and the Evolution of Poverty in Africa 1920-2009," Working Papers 2012003, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    20. Sue Bowden & Paul Mosley, 2008. "Historical roots of poverty: A symposium," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(8), pages 987-995.

    More about this item

    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:wly:jintdv:v:20:y:2008:i:8:p:1049-1079. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/5102/home .

    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 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.