Angus Maddison, Economic Historian, Dies at 83

Historians in the News

Some people try to forecast the future. Angus Maddison devoted his life to forecasting the past.

Professor Maddison, a British-born economic historian with a compulsion for quantification, spent many of his 83 years calculating the size of economies over the last three millenniums. In one study he estimated the size of the world economy in A.D. 1 as about one five-hundredth of what it was in 2008.

He died on April 24 at a hospital in Paris after a long illness, his daughter, Elizabeth Maddison, said. He lived near Compiègne, about 50 miles northeast of Paris.

Professor Maddison held various senior posts at what is now the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international research and consulting organization based in Paris. Most recently he was a professor at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

He also spent much of his career studying economic conditions in the developing world firsthand, living for extended periods in Pakistan, Ghana, Brazil, Mongolia and Guinea, among other nations. As an adviser, he helped emerging market governments determine how to measure their economic progress and improve policies....
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