ANGUS MADDISON, Economic historian died on April 24th at the age of 83.
In 1995 he published GDP estimates for 56 countries as far back as 1820. In 2001 his estimation activity resulted in an estimate for world output in the year 1AD: $105.4 billion at 1990 prices.
William Petty, in 1665 estimated the income of England and Wales at £40m.
Maddison used some work on probate inventories in 17th and 18th century England. For Mughal India, he used a 16th-century survey by Abu Fazl, vizier to Emperor Akbar. His estimates of Japan's population relied on the annual register of religious affiliation. Maddison's figures show that Asia accounted for more than half of world output for 18 of the last 20 centuries. Now its resurgence in the world economy is, therefore, a “restoration” not a revolution.
Economists wants numbers and Maddison supplied them with his estimation methods.
Maddison believed that numbers sharpened debate. Quantification, he wrote, “is more readily contestable and likely to be contested.” In disputing the figures provided by an economic statistician, scholars would be inspired to provide their own. Thus the subject progresses.
His scholarly output includes 20 books and 130 articles, plus another 19 volumes that he edited or co-authored. He supervised 13 doctoral students. He also co-founded the Groningen Growth and Development Centre at the University of Groningen,