IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

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

  • 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)

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

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

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of International Development.

Volume (Year): 20 (2008)
Issue (Month): 8 ()
Pages: 1049-1079

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:20:y:2008:i:8:p:1049-1079
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/5102/home

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Fishlow, Albert, 1972. "Brazilian Size Distribution of Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(2), pages 391-402, May.
  2. Barro, Robert J, 2000. " Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
  3. Nicholas Crafts, 1997. "Some dimensions of the 'quality of life' during the British industrial revolution," Economic History Working Papers 20349, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  4. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. 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, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

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)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.