Inequality of Incomes and Opportunity, c. 1920–Present

  • Ellen Hillbom
  • Jutta Bolt
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Economic History book series (PEHS)


Like many other natural resource-rich developing countries, income inequality in Botswana is very high. Commonly, it has been assumed that the exploitation of the high value diamonds has caused inequality to rise, but in this chapter Hillbom and Bolt trace the rise of inequality back to the cattle economy. Using social tables, they estimate income inequality for six consecutive decades starting from 1920. By connecting the colonial inequality estimates to the official inequality estimates for the independence era, they are able to capture changes in inequality over 90 years. This long term trend is related to the distribution of resources and opportunities as underlying factors driving income inequality. Throughout the chapter, the theme guiding the analysis is the search for the relationship between sectorial change and long-term trends in inequality and the argument that high inequality and inclusive sustainable development are incompatible.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Hillbom
    • 1
  • Jutta Bolt
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.University of LundLundSweden
  2. 2.Lund UniversityLundSweden
  3. 3.University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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