African elites: Wealth accumulation and persistence

Project: Research

Project Details


We investigate the historical roots of wealth accumulation by elites in Africa. Although all elites are taken into account, the primary focus and originality is the analysis of the development of indigenous elites in the informal (agrarian) sector and calculations of their wealth accumulation over time, including in-kind assets. The study will both further our understanding of the long-term accumulation of economic elites and explain the mechanisms through which they impact socio-economic development.
Fourteen African countries are included. Based on social tables we capture income levels and groups sizes for income classes. By drawing a richness line we identify elite groups. We proceed to identifying economic clusters generating incomes and wealth in the different systems of production and calculate both in-kind and monetary wealth. While we take pre-colonial legacies into account, our main focus is providing colonial estimates and to follow the development of elites over a long-term period. This includes how they fared after independence and the extent to which they have continued to shape the structure of African economies.
Theoretically we are interested in explaining drivers of long-term trends of economic inequality, specifically the nexus between elites, colonial policies and commercialization.
Effective start/end date2019/01/012023/01/31


  • Swedish Research Council

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

UKÄ subject classification

  • Social Sciences

Free keywords

  • elite formation
  • economic inequality
  • Africa