The dynamics of inequality in a newly settled, pre-industrial society: The case of the Cape Colony
AbstractOne reason for the relatively poor development performance of many countries around the world today may be the high levels of inequality during and after colonisation. Evidence from colonies in the Americas suggests that skewed initial factor endowments could create small elites that owned a disproportionate share of wealth, human capital and political power. The Cape Colony, founded in 1652 at the southern tip of Africa, presents a case where a mercantilist company (the Dutch East India Company) settles the land and establishes a unique set of institutions within which inequality and development evolve. This paper provides a long-run quantitative analysis of trends in asset-based inequality (using Principle Components' Analysis on tax inventories) during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, allowing, for the first time, a dynamic rather than static analysis of inequality trends in a newly settled and pre-industrial society over this period. While theory testing in other societies has been severely limited because of a scarcity of quantitative evidence, this study presents a history with evidence, enabling an evaluation of the Engerman-Sokoloff and other hypotheses.
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 Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 17/2009.
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
South Africa; settler societies; Kuznets; income distribution; asset index; institutions; mercantilism; Dutch East India Company;
Other versions of this item:
- Johan Fourie & Dieter von Fintel, 2010. "The dynamics of inequality in a newly settled, pre-industrial society: the case of the Cape Colony," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 4(3), pages 229-267, October.
- Johan Fourie & Dieter von Fintel, 2009. "The dynamics of inequality in a newly settled, preindustrial society: The case of the Cape Colony," Working Papers 134, Economic Research Southern Africa.
- N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
- D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
- D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AFR-2009-08-02 (Africa)
- NEP-ALL-2009-08-02 (All new papers)
- NEP-CWA-2009-08-02 (Central & Western Asia)
- NEP-HIS-2009-08-02 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
- NEP-POL-2009-08-02 (Positive Political Economics)
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.:
- Ewout Frankema, 2010. "The colonial roots of land inequality: geography, factor endowments, or institutions?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(2), pages 418-451, 05.
- Kuznets, Simon, 1971.
"Modern Economic Growth: Findings and Reflections,"
Nobel Prize in Economics documents
1971-2, Nobel Prize Committee.
- Chen, Chau-Nan & Tsaur, Tien-Wang & Rhai, Tong-Shieng, 1982. "The Gini Coefficient and Negative Income," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 473-78, November.
- Jeffrey G. Williamson & Branko Milanovic & Peter H. Lindert, 2008.
"Measuring Ancient Inequality,"
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.
- 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.
- Boshoff, Willem H. & Fourie, Johan, 2010.
"The significance of the Cape trade route to economic activity in the Cape Colony: a medium-term business cycle analysis,"
European Review of Economic History,
Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(03), pages 469-503, December.
- Willem H Boshoff & Johan Fourie, 2008. "The significance of the Cape trade route to economic activity in the Cape colony: a medium-term business cycle analysis," Working Papers 23/2008, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
- David McKenzie, 2005. "Measuring inequality with asset indicators," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 229-260, 06.
- Jane Fry & Tim Fry & Keith McLaren, 2000.
"Compositional data analysis and zeros in micro data,"
Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 32(8), pages 953-959.
- Jane M. Fry & Tim R.L. Fry & Keith R. McLaren, 1996. "Compositional Data Analysis and Zeros in Micro Data," Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre Working Papers g-120, Monash University, Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre.
- Feinstein, Charles, 1988. "The Rise and Fall of the Williamson Curve," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(03), pages 699-729, September.
- Keen, Michael, 1986. "Zero Expenditures and the Estimation of Engel Curves," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 1(3), pages 277-86, July.
- Willem Boshoff & Johan Fourie, 2008. "Explaining ship traffic fluctuations in the early Cape settlement: 1652–1793," Working Papers 01/2008, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
- Champernowne, D G, 1974. "A Comparison of Measures of Inequality of Income Distribution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 84(336), pages 787-816, December.
- Johan Fourie & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2012.
"GDP in the Dutch Cape Colony: The national accounts of a slave-based society,"
04/2012, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
- Johan Fourie & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2012. "GDP in the Dutch Cape Colony: The national accounts of a slave-based society," Working Papers 0030, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
- Patrizio Piraino & Sean Muller & Jeanne Cilliers & Johan Fourie, 2013. "The transmission of longevity across generations: The case of the settler Cape Colony," Working Papers 14/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
- Jerven , Morten & Austin , Gareth & Green, Erik & Uche , Chibuike & Frankema , Ewout & Fourie , Johan & Inikori , Joseph & Moradi , Alexander & Hillbom , Ellen, 2012.
"Moving Forward in African Economic History: Bridging the Gap Between Methods and Sources,"
African Economic History Working Paper
1/2012, African Economic History Network.
- Jerven, Morten & Austin, Gareth & Green, Erik & Uche, Chibuike & Frankema, Ewout & Fourie, Johan & Inikori, Joseph & Moradi, Alexander & Hillbom, Ellen, 2012. "Moving Forward in African Economic History. Bridging the Gap Between Methods and Sources," Lund Papers in Economic History 124, Department of Economic History, Lund University.
- Johan Fourie, 2011. "Slaves as capital investment in the Dutch Cape Colony, 1652-1795," Working Papers 21/2011, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Melt van Schoor).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.