A West African experiment: constructing a GDP series for colonial Ghana, 1891–1950

Morten Jerven
Published Online:
13 Jun 2014
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 67 Issue 4

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There has been a recent surge in research on long‐term African development. For this research agenda to be fruitful and its theories tested, it is crucial to have consistent estimates of economic change. However, there is a lack of reliable time series data for the colonial period in Sub‐Saharan Africa. This article contributes new time series data for the Gold Coast and Ghana between 1890 and 2010 and in particular a new GDP time series for Ghana for the years 1891–1957. The series implies a sustained period of economic expansion from the late nineteenth century. This suggests a revision of some prevalent truths about the history of economic growth in Sub‐Saharan Africa, and points the way forward for expanding the database to cover the colonial period for other African economies.

© Economic History Society 2014

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