The Maddison Project: collaborative research on historical national accounts


  • This article is the first result of the Maddison Project. The current members of the Maddison Project are (in alphabetical order) Bart van Ark, Leticia Arroyo Abad, Luis Bertola, Derek Blades, Jutta Bolt, Stephen Broadberry, Nick Crafts, Pierre van der Eng, Giovanni Federico, Ewout Frankema, Kyoji Fukao, Robert Gordon, Mark Harrison, David Henderson, Alan Heston, André Hofman, Morten Jerven, Herman de Jong, Peter Lindert, Debin Ma, Branko Milanovic, Sevket Pamuk, Leandro Prados de la Escosura, Albrecht Ritschl, Tirthankar Roy, Lennart Schön, Harry Wu, and Jan Luiten van Zanden. We thank all the members for their commitment to the project, their generous supply of data, and their valuable comments on earlier drafts of this article. Furthermore we are grateful to all other scholars who have kindly provided their data to the project, and we thank the three anonymous referees and the participants of the session ‘The Maddison Project, an international collaboratory to continue the work of Angus Maddison on measuring economic performance across time and space’, at the XVIth World Economic History Congress (Stellenbosch, 2012) for their comments. The usual disclaimer applies.


The Maddison Project, initiated in March 2010 by a group of close colleagues of Angus Maddison, aims to develop an effective system of cooperation between scholars to continue Maddison's work on measuring economic performance in the world economy. This article is a first product of the project. Its goal is to explain the aims and approach of the project, and, as a first result of this ‘collaboratory’, to inventory recent research on historical national accounts. We also briefly discuss some of the problems related to these historical statistics and we extend and where necessary revise the estimates published by Maddison in his latest overviews. Most new work relates to the period before 1820; it leads to a reassessment of levels of GDP per capita in western Europe in the early modern period, and to a confirmation of Maddison's previous estimates of Asian levels of real income.