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Inequality and growth in the very long run: inferring inequality from data on social groups

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  • Modalsli, Jørgen

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)

Abstract

Income distribution data from before the Industrial Revolution usually comes in the shape of social tables: inventories of a range of social groups and their mean incomes. These are frequently reported without adjusting for within-group income dispersion, leading to a systematic downward bias in the reporting of pre industrial inequality. This paper suggests a correction method, and applies it to an existing collection of twenty-five social tables, from Rome in AD 1 to India in 1947. The corrections, using a variety of assumptions on within-group dispersion, lead to substantial increases in the Gini coefficients. Combining the inequality levels with data on GDP, a robust positive relationship between income inequality and economic growth is confirmed. This supports earlier proposals, based on fewer data points, of a "super Kuznets curve" of increasing inequality over the entire pre-industrial period.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Oslo University, Department of Economics in its series Memorandum with number 11/2011.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 28 Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2011_011

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Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
Phone: 22 85 51 27
Fax: 22 85 50 35
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Web page: http://www.oekonomi.uio.no/indexe.html
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Keywords: Pre-industrial inequality; social tables; Kuznets curve; history;

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  1. François Bourguignon & Christian Morrisson, 2002. "Inequality Among World Citizens: 1820-1992," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 727-744, September.
  2. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2009. "Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 143-179.
  3. Branko Milanovic, 2006. "An Estimate Of Average Income And Inequality In Byzantium Around Year 1000," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 52(3), pages 449-470, 09.
  4. Jeffrey G. Williamson & Branko Milanovic & Peter H. Lindert, 2008. "Measuring Ancient Inequality," Working Papers 08-06, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
  5. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Das Human Kapital," Working Papers 2000-17, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  6. Milanovic, Branko, 1999. "True world income distribution, 1988 and 1993 - first calculations, based on household surveys alone," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2244, The World Bank.
  7. Yitzhaki, Shlomo & Lerman, Robert I, 1991. "Income Stratification and Income Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(3), pages 313-29, September.
  8. Branko milanovic, 2003. "True world income distribution, 1988 and 1993: First calculation based on household surveys alo," HEW 0305002, EconWPA.
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Cited by:
  1. Alwyn Young, 2011. "The Gini coefficient for a mixture of Ln-Normal populations," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 54246, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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