Jutta Bolt

Associate professor, Lund University

[email protected]

Personal page

Research interests: Demographic and economic change in Africa

My research focuses on understanding long-term comparative economic development patterns, with a special focus on Africa. Current research projects include understanding long-term population dynamics in Africa (Wallenberg Academy fellowship), understanding the historical origins of present-day income inequality in Africa and studying the historical development of local and central government capacity in Africa. I am also the coordinator and one of the developers of the Maddison Project database.

Case Studies


Ellen Hillbom and Jutta Bolt

Based on its diamond-led growth since the late 1960s onwards, Botswana is hailed as an African growth miracle. It is also known as a country with high levels of economic inequality, the gini peaking at 0.63 in 1993. We scrutinize the relationship between the two – growth and inequality. We show that the rise in inequality is not driven by the extraction of a high value natural resource. Instead, the explanation is found in the polarisation in the cattle sector and increasing wages for government officials during the modest cattle-led growth period starting in the 1940s.

Data is available here.

Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Jutta Bolt, Erik Green, Ellen Hillbom and Mesfin Araya

Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe share strong geographic, historic and economic ties. Their commonalities include being land locked facing high transportation costs and the colonial experience of governance by the British South Africa Company. Further, they have a history of integrated markets including large flows of labour migration and in the period 1953-63 they were joined in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. However, they also represent three distinct types of colonial economies: the peasant based (Malawi), the mineral dependent (Zambia) and the settler society (Zimbabwe). In this comparative study, we investigate the three territories’ economic interaction as well as their varieties in long-term income inequality trends.