Historical perspectives on income distribution: The case of Europe
In: Handbook of Income Distribution
The evolution of income distribution over two centuries is an attractive topic because it allows one to test the inverse U-curve hypothesis using long series instead of cross-section data. In Section 1 the distribution trends in countries where global data are available, is considered, that is in four Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, the German states and Germany, and in France. The inverse U-curve hypothesis is verified in four of them. Section 2 presents in a consistent framework, using the Theil indicator, all available information on inequality trends between agricultural and nonagricultural sectors and on inequality trends within each sector in European countries. Finally Section 3 throws light on the political and economic factors explaining the long-term evolution of distribution. The economic factors playing a key role are the market structures, the diffusion of education and saving, and dualism.
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