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The income inequality of France in historical perspective

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  • Morrisson, Christian
  • Snyder, Wayne
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    Abstract

    France presents an unusual case because, unlike several other European countries, there are no estimates of the income distribution for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This is a serious deficiency because it limits the ability to understand how an important dimension of the socio-economic fabric changed during the years preceding and coinciding with the beginning of France s industrial development. In this article we provide estimates that use tax data and the social tables of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While this data does not provide a basis for a perfectly accurate assessment of the income distribution, it does permit an evaluation of the general magnitude of inequality and how it varied in that period. The results suggest that inequality during the eighteenth century was large but decreased during the revolutionary period (1790 1815). Afterwards, and in accordance with Kuznets hypothesis, when industrialisation began about 1830, inequality increased until sometime in the 1860s when it began its slow decline towards greater equality that characterises the twentieth century.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal European Review of Economic History.

    Volume (Year): 4 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 01 (April)
    Pages: 59-83

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    Handle: RePEc:cup:ereveh:v:4:y:2000:i:01:p:59-83_00

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    Cited by:
    1. Daudin, Guillaume, 2010. "Domestic Trade and Market Size in Late-Eighteenth-Century France," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 70(03), pages 716-743, September.
    2. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/2241 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Guillaume Daudin, 2010. "Domestic Trade and Market Size in Late 18th century France," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/b0ghejdpldr, Sciences Po.
    4. Steven Nafziger & Peter Lindert, 2011. "Russian Inequality on the Eve of Revolution," Department of Economics Working Papers 2013-13, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Sep 2013.
    5. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/b0ghejdpldro9c499h4ajc937 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Tracy Dennison & Steven Nafziger, 2011. "Micro-Perspectives on Living Standards in Nineteenth-Century Russia," Department of Economics Working Papers 2011-07, Department of Economics, Williams College.

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