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

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  • 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
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.

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