Inequality and growth in the very long run: Inferring inequality from data on social groups
AbstractThis paper presents a new method for calculating Gini coefficients from tabulations of the mean income of social classes. Income distribution data from before the Industrial Revolution usually come in the form of such tabulations, called social tables. Inequality indices generated from social tables are frequently calculated without adjusting for within-group income dispersion, leading to a systematic downward bias in the reporting of pre-industrial inequality. The correction method presented in this paper is applied 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 suggests a positive relationship between income inequality and economic growth. This supports earlier proposals, based on fewer data points, of a “super Kuznets curve” of increasing inequality over the entire pre-industrial period.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Research Department of Statistics Norway in its series Discussion Papers with number 734.
Date of creation: Feb 2013
Date of revision:
Pre-industrial inequality; social tables; Kuznets curve; history;
Other versions of this item:
- Modalsli, Jørgen, 2011. "Inequality and growth in the very long run: inferring inequality from data on social groups," Memorandum 11/2011, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
- D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
- N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
- O11 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
- C65 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Miscellaneous Mathematical Tools
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-04-27 (All new papers)
- NEP-EVO-2013-04-27 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-HIS-2013-04-27 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000.
"Das Human Kapital,"
2000-17, Brown University, Department of Economics.
- Milanovic,Branko & Lindert, Peter H. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2007.
"Measuring ancient inequality,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
4412, The World Bank.
- Branko Milanovic & Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2007. "Measuring Ancient Inequality," NBER Working Papers 13550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jeffrey G. Williamson & Branko Milanovic & Peter H. Lindert, 2008. "Measuring Ancient Inequality," Working Papers 08-06, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
- Milanovic, Branko & Lindert, Peter & Williamson, Jeffrey, 2007. "Measuring Ancient Inequality," MPRA Paper 5388, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer & Vollrath, Dietrich, 2008.
"Inequality in Land Ownership, the Emergence of Human Capital Promoting Institutions and the Great Divergence,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
6751, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- 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.
- Oded Galor & Omar Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2006. "Inequality in Land Ownership, the Emergence of Human Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_001, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
- 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.
- Branko Milanovic, 2005. "An Estimate Of Average Income And Inequality In Byzantium Around Year 1000," Economic History, EconWPA 0501003, EconWPA.
- 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.
- François Bourguignon & Christian Morrisson, 2002.
"Inequality Among World Citizens: 1820-1992,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 727-744, September.
- Branko Milanovic, 2002.
"True World Income Distribution, 1988 and 1993: First Calculation Based on Household Surveys Alone,"
Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society,
Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 51-92, January.
- Branko milanovic, 2003. "True world income distribution, 1988 and 1993: First calculation based on household surveys alo," HEW, EconWPA 0305002, EconWPA.
- 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.
- 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.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (J Bruusgaard).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.