Colonial Ghana has attracted much attention as a successful peasant-led, cocoa-driven economy. However, scholars differ in their views on how and to what extent cocoa impacted patterns of inequality among Africans. We find that income inequality was high prior to the introduction of cocoa; remained stable in the early decades of the twentieth century; declined during the Great Depression in the early 1930s; and, finally, increased in the second half of the colonial era. Cocoa played an important role directly and indirectly, as rapidly rising cocoa prices after the Great Depression benefitted the large-scale cocoa farmers, and cocoa-led growth spread to both the private and public sectors and resulted in increasing incomes for government employees, skilled and commercial workers. In addition to calculating colonial income inequality, we also study the role of fiscal contracts, education and government policies for inequality during both the colonial and independence eras.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *