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date: 20 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the debates over the measurement of economic progress in African countries in the twentieth century, paying particular attention to national accounting and the measurement of gross domestic product per capita and economic growth. It considers how African economic progress has been measured from colonial times to the pioneering national account initiatives in the 1950s, economic liberalization and the “discovery” of the informal sector in the 1970s, and the adoption of evidence-based policy on social indicators in the twentieth century. It also discusses Africa’s focus on poverty reduction and the millennium development goals that required a change in focus in development and in the data needs for measuring progress.

Keywords: economic progress, Africa, national accounting, gross domestic product, economic growth, economic liberalization, informal sector, social indicators, poverty reduction, millennium development goals

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