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Rising Inequality: Trends In The Distribution Of Wealth In Industrializing New England

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  • Steckel, Richard H.
  • Moehling, Carolyn M.

Abstract

This article assembles new data and methods for studying wealth inequality trends in industrializing America. Inequality grew sharply between 1820 and 1850, leveled off, and increased steadily between 1870 and 1900. Inequality grew due to compositional changes in the population, but also grew within occupations, age groups, and the native-born population. Proposed labor-market explanations are inconsistent with the fact that wealth inequality between occupational groups was declining. Wealth accumulation patterns are also inconsistent with the hypothesis of child default on responsibilities for old-age care. We propose research on a new explanation based on luck, rents, and entrepreneurship.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 61 (2001)
Issue (Month): 01 (March)
Pages: 160-183

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:61:y:2001:i:01:p:160-183_02

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Cited by:
  1. Klass, Oren S. & Biham, Ofer & Levy, Moshe & Malcai, Ofer & Solomon, Sorin, 2006. "The Forbes 400 and the Pareto wealth distribution," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 290-295, February.
  2. Mollick, André Varella, 2012. "Income inequality in the U.S.: The Kuznets hypothesis revisited," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 127-144.
  3. Carlos Santiago Caballero, 2010. "Income inequality in central Spain, 1690-1800," Working Papers in Economic History wp10-11, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones.
  4. Canaday, Neil, 2008. "The accumulation of property by southern blacks and whites: Individual-level evidence from a South Carolina cotton county, 1910-1919," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 51-75, January.
  5. Sunder, Marco, 2013. "The height gap in 19th-century America: Net-nutritional advantage of the elite increased at the onset of modern economic growth," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 245-258.
  6. Ohlsson, Henry & Roine, Jesper & Waldenstrom, Daniel, 2006. "Long-Run Changes in the Concentration of Wealth: An Overview of Recent Findings," Working Paper Series RP2006/103, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  7. Alice Kasakoff & Andrew Lawson & Emily Van Meter, 2014. "A Bayesian analysis of the spatial concentration of individual wealth in the US North during the nineteenth century," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(36), pages 1035-1074, April.
  8. Taylor Jaworski, 2009. "War and wealth: economic opportunity before and after the Civil War, 1850-1870," Economic History Working Papers 22303, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  9. Dan Bogart & John Majewski, 2008. "Two Roads to the Transportation Revolution: Early Corporations in the United Kingdom and the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Understanding Long-Run Economic Growth: Geography, Institutions, and the Knowledge Economy, pages 177-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Joshua L. Rosenbloom & Gregory W. Stutes, 2005. "Reexamining the Distribution of Wealth in 1870," NBER Working Papers 11482, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Di Matteo, Livio, 2013. "Women, wealth and economic change: An assessment of the impact of women's property law in Wentworth County, Ontario, 1872–1927," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 285-307.
  12. Hugh Rockoff, 2008. "Great Fortunes of the Gilded Age," NBER Working Papers 14555, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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