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African Economic Growth 1900-50: Historical National Accounts for British Colonial Africa

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  • Jerven, Morten

    () (African Economic History Network)

Abstract

The study of growth in African economies during the 20th Century is hampered by the lack of historical GDP estimates. There has been some backward projections, and country case studies, but despite the available data historical national accounts has not yet been assembled. This paper provides GDP estimates for some former British colonies between 1900 – 1950. The estimates indicate faster growth and economic expansion compared to the previous estimates that have been based on backward extrapolations. It further brings support to the argument that if we observe economic growth in many economies from the 1890s to the 1970s and then only interrupted from 1975s to 1995s, writing about the 20th century for Africa as a growth tragedy may be a mistake, caused by lack of data. New time series data on economic growth may foster a research agenda devoted to the study of different growth trajectories on the continent.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:afekhi:2019_050
    DOI: https://www.aehnetwork.org/working-papers/african-economic-growth-1900-50-historical-national-accoun
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Lennart Schon & Olle Krantz, 2012. "The Swedish economy in the early modern period: constructing historical national accounts," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 529-549, November.
    8. Robert C. Allen, 1999. "Tracking the agricultural revolution in England," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 52(2), pages 209-235, May.
    9. Jerven, Morten, 2012. "An unlevel playing field: national income estimates and reciprocal comparison in global economic history," Journal of Global History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 107-128, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Africa; economic growth; national accounts; GDP;

    JEL classification:

    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • N17 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Africa; Oceania
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania

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