The Economic Decline of Zimbabwe

Neither Growth nor Equity

Carolyn Jenkins & John Knight



When Zimbabwe achieved political independence, its new majority government set itself the dual objectives of economic growth and redistribution of resources, neither of which were achieved. The seeds of economic decline were sown soon after independence in unsustainably high government spending, which was financed by private savings, stifling private investment and inhibiting employment creation. The burden of adjustment was borne disproportionately by the rural poor, who fared worse than those already in urban employment. Zimbabwe's experience provides valuable lessons for countries struggling with the trade offs between growth-orientated and redistributive policies.


... there are of course a number of problem areas. Historians who know anything about Zimbabwe will certainly flinch ... at least in this reviewer's opinion, is the book's failure directly to engage with alternative explanations of the crisis. - Ian Phimster, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute


Carolyn Jenkins works at the Centre of the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford and at the Centre for Research into Economics and Finance in Southern Africa, London School of Economics.

John Knight is Professor and Head of the Department of Economics at the University of Oxford. A founder member of the Centre for Study of African Economies, he has written extensively on human resource and labour market issues in Africa and elsewhere.