This paper offers time-series of urban unskilled labor wages and commodity prices in eightBritish African colonies (1880-1940) and shows that real wages were above subsistence leveland rising, especially during the interwar years. Real wages in West Africa and Mauritiuswere even considerably higher than in some major Asian cities. Our results cast doubt onstudies emphasizing the existence of structural impediments to African economic growth.We also document an East-West divergence within Africa and argue this was caused byvariations in colonial land and labor market institutions, challenging the view that Africancolonial institutions were exclusively extractive.
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New Book: Agency, Gender and Economic Development in the World Economy 1850–2000
New GEHS book: Technology, Skills and the Pre-Modern Economy in the East and the West, editors Maarten Prak and Jan Luiten van Zanden
The Long Road to the Industrial Revolution available as print on demand paper back
Film impressions, Tine De Moor and Bas van Bavel of the CGEH explain the societal relevance of their research in short films