IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/exehis/v62y2016icp143-153.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Growing apart in early modern Europe? A comparison of inequality trends in Italy and the Low Countries, 1500–1800

Author

Listed:
  • Alfani, Guido
  • Ryckbosch, Wouter

Abstract

This article provides a comparison of long-term changes in inequality in two key areas of preindustrial Europe: Central-Northern Italy and the Low Countries. Based on new archival material, we reconstruct regional estimates of economic inequality during 1500–1800 and use them to assess the role of economic growth, social-demographic variables, proletarianization, and institutions. We argue that different explanations should be invoked to understand the early modern growth of inequality throughout Europe since several factors conspired to make for a society in which it was much easier for inequality to rise than to fall. Although long-term trends in economic inequality were apparently similar across the continent, divergence occurred in terms of inequality extraction ratios.

Suggested Citation

  • Alfani, Guido & Ryckbosch, Wouter, 2016. "Growing apart in early modern Europe? A comparison of inequality trends in Italy and the Low Countries, 1500–1800," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 143-153.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:62:y:2016:i:c:p:143-153
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2016.07.003
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014498316300924
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.eeh.2016.07.003?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thomas Piketty, 2013. "Le capital au XXIe siècle," Post-Print halshs-00979232, HAL.
    2. Santiago-Caballero, Carlos, 2011. "Income inequality in central Spain, 1690-1800," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 83-96, January.
    3. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    4. Branko Milanovic & Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2011. "Pre‐Industrial Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(551), pages 255-272, March.
    5. Thomas Piketty & Gilles Postel-Vinay & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 2006. "Wealth Concentration in a Developing Economy: Paris and France, 1807–1994," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 236-256, March.
    6. Jan Luiten Van Zanden & Eltjo Buringh & Maarten Bosker, 2012. "The rise and decline of European parliaments, 1188–1789," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(3), pages 835-861, August.
    7. 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, September.
    8. Bas Bavel & Auke Rijpma, 2016. "How important were formalized charity and social spending before the rise of the welfare state? A long-run analysis of selected western European cases, 1400–1850," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(1), pages 159-187, February.
    9. Jutta Bolt & Jan Luiten Zanden, 2014. "The Maddison Project: collaborative research on historical national accounts," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(3), pages 627-651, August.
    10. Milanovic, Branko, 2013. "The inequality possibility frontier : extensions and new applications," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6449, The World Bank.
    11. Prados De La Escosura, Leandro, 2008. "Inequality, poverty and the Kuznets curve in Spain, 1850–2000," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(3), pages 287-324, December.
    12. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
    13. Wouter Ryckbosch, 2016. "Editor's choice Economic inequality and growth before the industrial revolution: the case of the Low Countries (fourteenth to nineteenth centuries)," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 1-22.
    14. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(4), pages 803-832, December.
    15. Alfani, Guido, 2015. "Economic Inequality in Northwestern Italy: A Long-Term View (Fourteenth to Eighteenth Centuries)," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1058-1096, December.
    16. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economies," Economía Journal, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association - LACEA, vol. 0(Fall 2002), pages 41-110, August.
    17. Guido Alfani, 2017. "The rich in historical perspective: evidence for preindustrial Europe (ca. 1300–1800)," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 11(3), pages 321-348, September.
    18. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2005. "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change, and Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 546-579, June.
    19. Guido Alfani & Matteo Di Tullio, 2015. "Dinamiche di lungo periodo della disuguaglianza in Italia settentrionale: una nota di ricerca," Working Papers 071, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    20. de Vries,Jan & van der Woude,Ad, 1997. "The First Modern Economy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521570619, May.
    21. Hoffman, Philip T. & Jacks, David S. & Levin, Patricia A. & Lindert, Peter H., 2002. "Real Inequality In Europe Since 1500," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(2), pages 322-355, June.
    22. de Vries,Jan & van der Woude,Ad, 1997. "The First Modern Economy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521578257, May.
    23. Van Zanden, Jan Luiten & Prak, Maarten, 2006. "Towards an economic interpretation of citizenship: The Dutch Republic between medieval communes and modern nation-states," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 111-145, August.
    24. J. L. Van Zanden, 1995. "Tracing the beginning of the Kuznets curve: western Europe during the early modern period," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 48(4), pages 643-664, November.
    25. Nikolaj Malinowski & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2015. "National income and its distribution in preindustrial Poland in a global perspective," Working Papers 0076, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    26. Guido Alfani & Francesco Ammannati, 2014. "Economic inequality and poverty in the very long run: The case of the Florentine State," Working Papers 070, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Alfani, Guido & Gierok, Victoria & Schaff, Felix, 2022. "Economic Inequality in Preindustrial Germany, ca. 1300–1850," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 82(1), pages 87-125, March.
    2. Edoardo Demo & Roberto Ricciuti & Mattia Viale, 2018. "Decomposing Economic Inequality in Early Modern Venice (ca. 1650-1800)," HHB Working Papers Series 12, The Historical Household Budgets Project.
    3. Alfani, Guido & Di Tullio, M & Fochesato, M, 2020. "The determinants of wealth inequality in the Republic of Venice (1400-1800)," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 483, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    4. Guido Alfani & Federico Tadei, 2017. "Income Inequality in Colonial Africa: Building Social Tables for Pre-Independence Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, and Senegal," Working Papers 594, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    5. Erfurth, Philipp Emanuel, 2021. "Unequal Unification? Income Inequality and Unification in 19th Century Italy and Germany," SocArXiv 2fma9, Center for Open Science.
    6. Guido Alfani, 2017. "The rich in historical perspective: evidence for preindustrial Europe (ca. 1300–1800)," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 11(3), pages 321-348, September.
    7. Irarrázaval, Andrés, 2020. "The fiscal origins of comparative inequality levels: an empirical and historical investigation," Economic History Working Papers 107491, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    8. Kumon, Yuzuru, 2021. "The Deep Roots of Inequality," IAST Working Papers 21-125, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    9. Schaff, Felix, 2020. "When ‘the state made war’, what happened to economic inequality? Evidence from preindustrial Germany (c.1400-1800)," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 107046, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    10. Irarrázaval, Andrés, 2020. "The fiscal origins of comparative inequality levels: an empirical and historical investigation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 107491, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    11. Felix Schaff, 2022. "Urban Political Structure and Inequality: Political Economy Lessons from Early Modern German Cities," Working Papers 0225, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    12. Gray, Rowena, 2020. "Inequality in nineteenth century Manhattan: Evidence from the housing market," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2020-02, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    13. James B. Davies & Livio Di Matteo, 2021. "Long Run Canadian Wealth Inequality in International Context," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 67(1), pages 134-164, March.
    14. Espín-Sánchez, José-Antonio & Gil-Guirado, Salvador & Giraldo-Paez, W. Daniel & Vickers, Chris, 2019. "Labor income inequality in pre-industrial Mediterranean Spain: The city of Murcia in the 18th century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 1-1.
    15. Aboagye, Prince Young & Bolt, Jutta, 2021. "Long-term trends in income inequality: Winners and losers of economic change in Ghana, 1891–1960," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    16. Schaff, Felix, 2020. "When ‘the state made war’, what happened to economic inequality? Evidence from preindustrial Germany (c.1400-1800)," Economic History Working Papers 107046, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    17. Milanovic, Branko, 2016. "Towards an explanation of inequality in pre-modern societies:the role of colonies and high population density," MPRA Paper 74877, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Kumon, Yuzuru, 2021. "Wealth Inequality in Pre-industrial Rural England," IAST Working Papers 21-124, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    19. Andrzej Tucki & Korneliusz Pylak, 2021. "Collective or Individual? What Types of Tourism Reduce Economic Inequality in Peripheral Regions?," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(9), pages 1-16, April.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Guido Alfani & Wouter Ryckbosch, 2015. "Was there a ‘Little Convergence’ in inequality? Italy and the Low Countries compared, ca. 1500-1800," Working Papers 557, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    2. Guido Alfani, 2017. "The rich in historical perspective: evidence for preindustrial Europe (ca. 1300–1800)," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 11(3), pages 321-348, September.
    3. Guido Alfani & Francesco Ammannati, 2017. "Long‐term trends in economic inequality: the case of the Florentine state, c. 1300–1800," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1072-1102, November.
    4. Wouter Ryckbosch, 2014. "Economic inequality and growth before the industrial revolution: A case study of the Low Countries (14th-19th centuries)," Working Papers 067, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    5. Vincent Geloso & Peter Lindert, 2020. "Relative costs of living, for richer and poorer, 1688–1914," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 14(3), pages 417-442, September.
    6. van Bavel, Bas, 2016. "The Invisible Hand?: How Market Economies have Emerged and Declined Since AD 500," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199608133.
    7. Alexandra M. de Pleijt & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2016. "Accounting for the “Little Divergence”: What drove economic growth in pre-industrial Europe, 1300–1800?," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(4), pages 387-409.
    8. Wouter Ryckbosch, 2016. "Editor's choice Economic inequality and growth before the industrial revolution: the case of the Low Countries (fourteenth to nineteenth centuries)," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 1-22.
    9. Broadberry, Stephen & Ghosal, Sayantan & Proto, Eugenio, 2017. "Anonymity, efficiency wages and technological progress," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 379-394.
    10. Esteban A. Nicolini & Fernando Ramos Palencia, 2016. "Comparing Income and Wealth Inequality in Pre-Industrial Economies: Lessons from 18th-Century Spain," Working Papers 0095, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    11. Alfani, Guido & Tadei, Federico, 2017. "Income Inequality In Colonial Africa: Building Social Tables For Pre-Independence Central African Republic, Ivory Coast And Senegal," African Economic History Working Paper 33/2017, African Economic History Network.
    12. Guido Alfani & Francesco Ammannati, 2014. "Economic inequality and poverty in the very long run: The case of the Florentine State," Working Papers 070, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    13. Jaime Reis, 2017. "Deviant behaviour? Inequality in Portugal 1565–1770," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 11(3), pages 297-319, September.
    14. Guido Alfani, 2017. "The rich in historical perspective: evidence for preindustrial Europe (ca. 1300–1800)," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 11(3), pages 321-348, September.
    15. Chor, Davin, 2005. "Institutions, wages, and inequality: The case of Europe and its periphery (1500-1899)," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 547-566, October.
    16. Broadberry Stephen, 2012. "Recent Developments in the Theory of Very Long Run Growth: A Historical Appraisal," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 53(1), pages 277-306, May.
    17. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2005. "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change, and Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 546-579, June.
    18. Alfani, Guido & Di Tullio, M & Fochesato, M, 2020. "The determinants of wealth inequality in the Republic of Venice (1400-1800)," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 483, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    19. Alfani, Guido, 2020. "Epidemics, inequality and poverty in preindustrial and early industrial times," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 520, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    20. Broadberry, Stephen, 2011. "Recent developments in the theory of very long run growth: A historical appraisal," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 56, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:62:y:2016:i:c:p:143-153. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.