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Royal Decoration for Angus Maddison

27 October 2006

On 27 October 2006 Prof. A. Maddison was awarded the title of Commander in the Order of Orange-Nassau. Maddison is Emeritus Professor of Economic Sociology at the Faculty of Economics. He enjoys a world-wide reputation as a pioneer in the field of the quantification of economic growth in an international comparative and historical perspective. The ceremony took place during a special symposium held on the occasion of his eightieth birthday. Groningen’s deputy mayor, Ms J.C.M. van Schie, presented the award at 5.15 p.m. in the RUG Academiegebouw.

He is the joint founder and intellectual leader of the Groningen Growth and Development Centre a research group within the Faculty of Economics that focuses on long-term economic growth. The databases maintained by Maddison and his current or former colleagues, which now include virtually every country in the world, form one of the most important sources for the analysis of long-term economic growth and are used throughout the world by academics and policy analysts.

Angus Maddison (Newcastle-on-Tyne, United Kingdom, 1926) started as a lecturer in Economic History at St Andrews University in Scotland. From 1953-1979 he held various positions at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris (until 1961 the Organization for European Economic Co-operation). In 1969-1971 he worked at the Harvard University Centre for International Affairs. Maddison also held the position of policy advisor for various institutions, including the governments of Ghana and Pakistan. In addition, he visited many other countries and often directly advised the government leaders of countries such as Brazil, Guinea, Mongolia, the USSR and Japan. This enabled him to gain a unique insight into the factors that determine growth and welfare.

World’s most prominent scholar
In 1978 Maddison was appointed Professor at the University of Groningen. Maddison was a pioneer in the field of the construction of national accounts, where a country’s accounts are calculated back in periods of several decades all the way to the year 0. To this end he combined modern research techniques with his own extensive knowledge of economic history and in particular countries’ performances in the field of GDP per capita. His work resulted in a deep new understanding of the reasons why some countries have become rich whereas others have remained poor (or have succumbed to poverty). In this vital field, Maddison is regarded as the world’s most prominent scholar.

Breakthrough in economic historiography
During the past two decades, Maddison has mainly focussed on the construction of data and analysis further back in time. He has, for example, published an authoritative study on economic growth in China over the past twenty centuries. This study has strongly boosted the historical debate about the strengths and weaknesses of China and Europe as two of the world’s leading economic forces. Furthermore, his estimates regarding the per capita income in the Roman Empire are regarded by many as a breakthrough in economic historiography.
He currently lives in Thourotte (France), but still has strong connections with the RUG.
Last modified:25 October 2019 10.11 a.m.
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