World Economic Performance

World Economic Performance

Past, Present and Future

Edited by D. S.P. Rao and Bart van Ark

World economic performance over the last 50 years has been spectacular. The postwar period has witnessed impressive growth rates in Western Europe and Japan, and in recent times China and India. This new book discusses these issues and tackles topical questions such as; what are the socio-economic and institutional factors that have contributed to this impressive performance? Will China and India continue to grow at the same rate over the next two decades? What are the prospects for Japan, the US and other advanced economies? The book brings together contributions by eminent scholars including the late Angus Maddison, Professors Justin Lin, Bob Gordon, Ross Garnaut, Bart van Ark and others to provide answers to these fascinating questions. The chapters analyse the economic performance of selected countries including China, India, Japan, Indonesia and the US, as well as Western Europe, Latin America and developing countries as a group. The time period of the study is from 1850 to the present and includes forecasts to 2030.

Chapter 1: Introduction

D. S. Prasada Rao and Bart van Ark

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, economic psychology, international economics


What was the world’s average per capita income in the year 1 AD? Why could China’s expansion not last beyond the 13th century? Why and when did the West get rich? Why did Sub–Saharan Africa not take off? Why is India still poor? While Angus Maddison will probably be most widely known for his long term series on gross domestic product and per capita income, going back many centuries, he more than anyone else used it to develop an immense research portfolio which shed light on those and other fundamental questions. Angus Maddison was an example of this rare brand of scholars who didn’t shy away from the big issues in economic development and growth. On 24 April 2010 he died at the age of 83. It was the end of a fascinating life and an impressive and internationally acclaimed career in reconstructing and studying the history of economic performance. Angus’ work has been widely acclaimed and he has been honored both during his lifetime and since he passed away. This book represents one of those honors. It is a collection of revised versions of a set of core papers which were presented at mini-conferences held in Groningen and Brisbane on the occasion of Angus Maddison’s 80th birthday in 2006. The Groningen meeting focused on the long term growth performance in the Western Hemisphere, whereas the Brisbane meeting had prime focus on Asia.