Per Capita Income in World History


  The following estimates of per capita income of the world was made by Angus Maddison (Emeritus Professor, University of Groningen, 1999) in his article "Poor until 1820." After the fall of the Roman Empire, the West entered a recession that lasted about a millennium. During this period, per capita income of the West was no more than $500 (say in 2000 constant dollar). After the industrial revolution, due to mass production, per capita income began to grow.
   January 11, 1999 Angus Maddison (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
 GDP per capita in 1990 International dollars  
YEAR 0 1000 1500 1820 1995
World $425 $420 $545 $675 $5,188
The West $439 $406 $624 $1,149 $19,990
West Europe 450 400 670 1,269 17,456
North America 400 400 400 1,233 22,933
Japan 400 425 525 675 19,720
The Rest $423 $424 $532 $594 $2,971
Other Europe 400 400 597 803 5,147
Latin America 400 415 415 671 5,031
China 450 450 600 600 2,653
Other Asia 425 425 525 560 2,768
Africa 400 400 400 400 1,221
 Population in italics in billions  
YEAR 0 1000 1500 1820 1995
World 250 273 431 1,067 5,671
         $106 $115 $235 $720 $29,423
The West 25 33 65 156 739
         $11 $13 $40 $179 $14,773
The Rest 226 241 367 911 4,932
         $95 $102 $195 $541 $14,651
   *NOTE: These estimates draw on material for 1500-1995 in A. Maddison, "Monitoring the World Economy" (1995) and "Chinese Economic Performance in the Long Run" (1998), published by the OECD Develop-ment Center, Paris. The time series for GDP were merged with estimates of 1990 GDP derived by use of purchasing power conversions rather than exchange rates and called here "international dollars." The tentative estimates for years before 1500 were specially prepared for this article.