The Commercial Transition and the Commodity Price Boom of 1845-1885

ABSTRACT: This is the first study to present a unified quantitative account of African commodity trade in the long 19th century from the zenith of the Atlantic slave trade (1790s) to the eve of World War II (1939). Drawing evidence from a new dataset on export and import prices, volumes, composition and net barter terms of trade for five African regions, we show that Sub-Saharan Africa experienced a terms of trade boom that was comparable to other parts of the ‘global periphery’ from the late 18th century up to the mid-1880s, with an exceptionally sharp price boom in the four decades before the Berlin conference (1845-1885). We argue that this commodity price boom changed the economic context in favor of a European scramble for Africa. We also show that the accelerated export growth after the establishment of colonial rule deepened Africa’s specialization in primary commodities, even though the terms of trade turned into a prolonged decline after 1885.

AUTHORS: Ewout Frankema, Jeffrey Williamson, Pieter Woltjer

» DOWNLOAD FULL PAPER «

Download

Available at: The National Bureau of Economic Research
Journal: NBER Working Paper Series, No. 21,213
DOI: 10.3386/w21213
Get PDF: “An Economic Rationale for the African Scramble”

Data

The data-set and a full description of the sources and methods used for this paper are available here.

» GET DATA «

 Cite

MLA Frankema, Ewout, Jeffrey Williamson, and Pieter Woltjer. An economic rationale for the african scramble: The commercial transition and the commodity price boom of 1845-1885. No. w21213. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2015.
APA Frankema, E., Williamson, J., & Woltjer, P. (2015). An economic rationale for the african scramble: The commercial transition and the commodity price boom of 1845-1885 (No. w21213). National Bureau of Economic Research.
Chicago Frankema, Ewout, Jeffrey Williamson, and Pieter Woltjer. An economic rationale for the african scramble: The commercial transition and the commodity price boom of 1845-1885. No. w21213. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2015.
Harvard Frankema, E., Williamson, J. and Woltjer, P., 2015. An economic rationale for the african scramble: The commercial transition and the commodity price boom of 1845-1885 (No. w21213). National Bureau of Economic Research.
Vancouver Frankema E, Williamson J, Woltjer P. An economic rationale for the african scramble: The commercial transition and the commodity price boom of 1845-1885. National Bureau of Economic Research; 2015 May 28.

» CAN’T GET ACCESS? CONTACT AUTHOR FOR A COPY «

Advertisements