Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Africa and the Demographic Consequences of the Columbian Exchange
Frankema, Ewout - \ 2019
Asian Review of World Histories 7 (2019)1-2. - ISSN 2287-965X - p. 66 - 79.
Africa - Columbian exchange - historical demography - Patrick Manning

Patrick Manning has been one of the leading scholars of African historical demography since the late 1970s. This essay takes stock of his contribution to the field and highlights some of the debates in which Manning has participated over the past forty years. The essay also discusses some of the main challenges of extrapolating African population series into previous centuries, arguing that the models designed by Manning capture the potential negative consequences of the trans-Atlantic slave trade on African population development since 1500 well, but that the next step forward requires methods for estimating the positive effects of the introduction and diffusion of New World food crops in Africa.

Gender, ethnicity, and unequal opportunity in colonial Uganda: European influences, African realities, and the pitfalls of parish register data
Haas, M.A. de; Frankema, E.H.P. - \ 2018
The path to economic development is growing more treacherous, again
Frankema, Ewout - \ 2018

In the 1990s economists had almost given up on the developing world. Although individual countries, like Singapore or South Korea, occasionally scaled the income ladder, the overall picture was, in the words of Lant Pritchett, a development economist at Harvard University, “divergence, big-time” between advanced economies and the rest. Then the scene changed. From the late 1990s global trade grew explosively, and the gap between the rich and the rest closed fast. Poverty tumbled. The share of people living on no more than $1.90 a day (at purchasing-power parity) fell from 36% in 1990 to just 10% in 2015. It would be the best of news if this trend could be maintained. Sadly, convergence seems to be slowing. That is bad news for Africa in particular.

The path to becoming a rich country usually runs through industrialisation, supported by opening up to trade and developing export industries. Trade facilitates technology transfer. Global markets weed out all but the most productive firms and allow even companies from small countries to scale up using techniques such as mass production.

Africa rising? A historical perspective
Frankema, Ewout ; Waijenburg, Marlous van - \ 2018
African Affairs 117 (2018)469. - ISSN 0001-9909 - p. 543 - 568.

Sub-Saharan Africa's recent economic boom has raised hopes and expectations to lift the regions' 'bottom millions' out of poverty by 2030. How realistic is that goal? We approach this question by comparing the experiences of three front-runners of region-specific development trajectories - Britain's capital-intensive, Japan's labour-intensive, and Ghana's land-extensive growth path, highlighting some historical analogies that are relevant for Africa, but often overlooked in the current 'Africa rising' debate. We draw particular attention to Africa's demographic boom and the possibilities for a quick transition to labour-intensive export-led industrialization. Although our exercise in diachronic comparative history offers little hope for poverty eradication by 2030, we do see broadened opportunities for sustained African economic growth in the longer term.

An Economic Rationale for the West African Scramble? The Commercial Transition and the Commodity Price Boom of 1835-1885
Frankema, E.H.P. ; Williamson, J.G. ; Woltjer, P.J. - \ 2018
Journal of Economic History 78 (2018)1. - ISSN 0022-0507 - p. 231 - 267.
We use a new trade dataset showing that nineteenth century Sub-Saharan Africa experienced a terms of trade boom comparable to other parts of the ‘global periphery’. A sharp rise in export prices in the five decades before the scramble (1835-1885) was followed by an equally impressive decline during the colonial era. This study revises the view that the scramble for West Africa occurred when its major export markets were in decline and argues that the larger weight of West Africa in French imperial trade strengthened the rationale for French instead of British initiative in the conquest of the interior.
Gender, ethnicity, and unequal opportunity in colonial Uganda: European influences, African realities, and the pitfalls of parish register data
Haas, M.A. de; Frankema, E.H.P. - \ 2018
Economic History Review 71 (2018)3. - ISSN 0013-0117 - p. 965 - 994.
The renaissance of African economic history in the past decade has opened up new research avenues for studying the long‐term social and economic development of Africa. A sensitive treatment of African realities in the evaluation of European colonial legacies and a critical stance towards the use of new sources and approaches is crucial. In this article, we engage with a recent article by Meier zu Selhausen and Weisdorf to show how selection biases in, and Eurocentric interpretations of, parish registers have provoked an overly optimistic account of European influences on the educational and occupational opportunities of African men and women. We confront their dataset, drawn from the marriage registers of the Anglican Cathedral in Kampala, with Uganda's 1991 census, and show that trends in the literacy and numeracy of men and women born in Kampala lagged half a century behind those who wedded in Namirembe Cathedral. We run a regression analysis showing that access to schooling during the colonial era was unequal along lines of gender and ethnicity. We foreground the role of Africans in the spread of education, and we argue that European influences were not just diffusive but also divisive, and that gender inequality was reconfigured rather than eliminated under colonial rule.
From coercion to compensation : institutional responses to labour scarcity in the Central African Copperbelt
Juif, Dácil ; Frankema, Ewout - \ 2018
Journal of Institutional Economics 14 (2018)Special Issue 2. - ISSN 1744-1374 - p. 313 - 343.
There is a tight historical connection between endemic labour scarcity and the rise of coercive labour market institutions in former African colonies. This paper explores how European mining companies in the Belgian Congo and Northern Rhodesia secured scarce supplies of African labour, by combining coercive labour recruitment practices with considerable investments in living standards. By reconstructing internationally comparable real wages, we show that copper mine workers lived at barebones subsistence in the 1910s–1920s, but experienced rapid welfare gains from the mid-1920s onwards, to become among the best paid manual labourers in Sub-Saharan Africa from the 1940s onwards. We investigate how labour stabilization programs raised welfare conditions of mining worker families (e.g., medical care, education, housing quality) in the Congo, and why these welfare programs were more hesitantly adopted in Northern Rhodesia. By showing how solutions to labour scarcity varied across space and time, we stress the need for dynamic conceptualizations of colonial institutions, as a counterweight to their oft supposed persistence in the historical economics literature.
Ewout Frankema over de ongelijkheid in de wereld
Frankema, Ewout - \ 2017

Het World Economic Forum gaat morgen van start in Davos, Zwitserland. Tijdens deze jaarlijkse bijeenkomst van wereldleiders, bedrijven en journalisten wordt er gepraat over grote economische vraagstukken, zoals inkomensongelijkheid. Want uit onderzoek van Oxfam Novib blijkt dat de acht rijkste mensen ter wereld even veel verdienen als de armste helft van de wereldbevolking. Ewout Frankema is hoogleraar aan de Wageningen Universiteit, hij onderzoekt de geschiedenis van rijkdom en armoede.

Ontdekking van Hispaniola
Frankema, Ewout - \ 2017

Ontdekkingsreiziger Christoffel Columbus ontdekte in 1492 het continent Amerika. Maar het bleef niet bij deze ene ontdekking. Want op 5 december 1492 zette Columbus voet op het eiland Hispaniola, dat bestaat uit zowel Haiti als de Dominicaanse Republiek. We praten erover praten met Ewout Frankema, hoogleraar aan de Wageningen Universiteit en deskundige op het gebied van de lange termijn ontwikkelingsgeschiedenis van voormalige ontwikkelingsregio’s in onder andere Latijns-Amerika

Colonial Roots of Divergence? The development of fiscal states in Africa and Asia, 1850-1960
Frankema, Ewout - \ 2017
Mondiale ongelijkheid en migratie in historisch perspectief
Frankema, Ewout - \ 2017
The Cambridge Economic History of The Modern World Conference
Frankema, Ewout - \ 2017
Africa, 1870-present: Growth, Reversals and Deep Transitions
Workshop on Global Commodities & Africa in the Long 19th Century, 1770s-1930s
Frankema, Ewout - \ 2017
An economic rationale for the West African scramble? The commercial transition and commodity price boom of 1835-1885
Cambridge Economic and Social History Seminar
Frankema, Ewout - \ 2017
Why Malthus wasn't African. Refelections on the development and density of African populations, 1500-1950
Africa and the great divergence
Frankema, Ewout - \ 2017
Annual Meeting of the Economic History Association
Frankema, Ewout - \ 2017
Here has all the Education Gone. The free-fall of skill premiums in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia in the long 20th century
Journal of Economic History (Journal)
Frankema, Ewout - \ 2017
Journal of Economic History (2017). - ISSN 0022-0507
Patterns of Manufacturing Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa : From Colonization to the Present
Austin, G. ; Frankema, E.H.P. ; Jerven, M. - \ 2017
In: The Spread of Modern Industry to the Periphery since 1871 / O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshoj, Williamson, Jeffrey Gale, Oxford : Oxford University Press - ISBN 9780198753643
Africa - manufacturing - factor endowments - economic policy - primary production - economic history
This chapter reviews the ‘long twentieth-century’ development of ‘modern’ manufacturing in Sub-Saharan Africa from colonization to the present. It argues that classifying Africa generically as a ‘late industrializer’ is inaccurate. To understand the distinctively African pattern of manufacturing growth, the discussion focuses on the dynamic interplay between the region’s specific endowment structures, global economic relationships, and government policies. It concludes that Sub-Saharan Africa is best characterized as a case of interrupted industrial growth instead of sustained convergence on world industrial leaders. This is partly because, until very recently, factor endowments made it very costly for states to pursue industrialization; and partly because successive rulers, colonial and post-colonial, have rarely had both the capacity to adopt and the dedication to sustain policies that modified the region’s existing comparative advantage in primary production, by using their fiscal and regulatory powers effectively to promote industrialization.
An Introduction to the African Commodity Trade Database, 1730-2010
Frankema, E.H.P. ; Woltjer, P.J. ; Dalrymple-Smith, A.E. ; Bulambo, M.B.L. - \ 2017
African commodity trade - economic history
The African Commodity Trade Database (ACTD) aims to stimulate and deepen research on African and global economic history. The database provides export and import series at product level for more than two and a half centuries of African trade (1730-2010). This article introduces potential users to some of the major questions that can be explored with African commodity trade data, as well as the sources, structure and limitations of the dataset. The current version of the ACTD is downloadable from the data repository of the African Economic History Network ( and will be regularly updated with new data.
Rainfall patterns and human settlement in tropical Africa and Asia compared
Frankema, E.H.P. ; Papaioannou, K.J. - \ 2017
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR Discussion Papers 11795)
We explore a new dataset of annual and monthly district-level rainfall patterns to assess the longstanding idea that climatological conditions were more conducive to the development of dense rural populations in Asia than in Africa. We test whether there existed significant cross-regional differences in both the frequency and intensity of rainfall shocks (i.e. annual mean deviations exceeding one standard deviation). Our results confirm that rainfall shocks in tropical Africa were both more frequent and more severe. Second, we test the separate effects of precipitation levels and variability on district-level population densities from colonial population censuses. We hypothesize that higher mean levels of precipitation facilitate agricultural intensification and human settlement, while unpredictability of rainfall has the opposite effect. Controlling for average rainfall levels, we find a strong negative effect of rainfall variation on population densities. This study thus lends further support to a wide literature arguing that the ecological conditions of agricultural intensification were more challenging in the African than in the Asian tropics.
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