Angus Maddison provides a comprehensive view of the growth and levels of world population since the year 1000. In this period, world population rose 22-fold, while per capita gross domestic product increased 13-fold and world GDP nearly 300-fold. The biggest gains occurred in the wealthy regions of today (Western Europe, North America, Australasia and Japan). The gap between the world leader, the United States and the poorest region, Africa, is now 20 to 1. In the year 1000, today’s wealthiest countries were poorer than Asia and Africa.
The book has several objectives. The first is a pioneering effort to quantify the economic performance of nations over the very long term. The second is to identify the forces which explain the success of the wealthy countries and explore the obstacles, which hindered advance in regions which lagged behind. The third is to scrutinize the interaction between the rich and the rest to assess the degree to which this relationship was exploitative.
This monumental reference is a “must” for scholars of economics and economic history, and casual reader will also find much of interest. The book is a sequel to the author’s Monitoring the World Economy: 1820 -1992 (OECD,1995), and his 1998 Chinese Economic Performance in the Long Run (OECD, 1998).