By Michael Reddell 09/09/2015


Today Queen Elizabeth becomes the longest-reigning British monarch (as others have noted, she became New Zealand’s longest-reigning monarch a couple of years ago).

By 1952 a few places that had been British possessions or protectorates had already become independent (eg India, Pakistan, Israel, Ireland) but the extent of Her Majesty’s territories was still quite astonishingly large.  The Conference Board has GDP per capita numbers back to 1950 for a fairly large number of countries.  I found useable data for 24 countries (probably fewer than half the total) that in 1952 were either British possessions or (New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Canada) were independent but shared the Queen as head of state.

Here is how those countries have grown since 1952.  The green bars represent those countries in this sample which have the Queen as head of state today.

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In 1952, on this measure, New Zealand has (just narrowly) the highest GDP per capita of any of the three old dominions.  And although the point of this post is mostly whimsical, it is hard to go by without the sad picture of New Zealand’s deep and prolonged relative decline.

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