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

Broadberry, Stephen and Gardner, Leigh ORCID: 0000-0001-8638-5121 (2022) Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1885–2008: evidence from eight countries. Explorations in Economic History, 83. ISSN 0014-4983

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.eeh.2021.101424


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.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
JEL classification: E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics > E0 - General > E01 - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N37 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: Africa; Oceania
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O10 - General
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2022 17:54
Last Modified: 17 May 2024 00:06

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