Economic Growth in the Cape Colony

Researchers invloved: Johan Fourie and Jan Luiten van Zanden

Here we publish the data and estimates on which we based the reconstruction of GDP for the Cape Colony (1701-1795), and related data for the nineteenth century making it possible to bridge the gap between our estimates and the official series of national accounts for South-Africa starting in 1911. A large part of data for the eighteenth century are derived  from: Pieter van Duin and Robert Ross, The Economy of the Cape Colony in the Eighteenth Century (Leiden 1987), but we added data from various sources as well. The details of the reconstruction and the interpretation of our results are presented in: Johan Fourie and Jan Luiten van Zanden, ‘GDP in the Dutch Cape Colony: The National Accounts of a Slave-Based Society’, South-African Journal of Economics, 81, 4 (2013),467-490 (pdf). The statistical appendix to this paper is also presented below.

The data are presented as follows:

  • The full details of the reconstruction of GDP 1701-1795 (see statistical appendix for explanations) (xls)
  • A summary of the main results 1701-1795 (xls)
  • Linking the 18th century estimates to the post 1911 Maddison estimates (in international dollars of 1990) (xls)

Additional collected data for the 19th century, mainly by Jorrit Bakker, student assistant:

  • Blue Books: exports and imports data (xls)
  • Blue Books: district data (xls)
  • Interest rates from the Thael Records (xls)
  • Compilation of data for 19th century, mainly from Bluebooks (xls)

Statistical Appendix explaining the estimation of the National Accounts for the Cape Colony (pdf - p20-24 for statistical appendix)











Figure 1: GDP per capita of the Cape Colony (1701-1911) and South-Africa (1911-2008) in 1990 international dollars