IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cda/wpaper/242.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Three Centuries Of Inequality In Britain And America

Author

Listed:
  • Peter Lindert
  • Wen Hai
  • Shunli Yao

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

Abstract

Income and wealth inequality rose over the first 150 years of U.S. history. They may have risen at times in Britain before 1875. The first half of this century equalized pre-fisc incomes more in Britain than in America. From the 1970s to the 1990s inequality rose in both countries, reversing some of the previous equalization. Government redistribution explains part but not all of the reversals in inequality trends. Factor-market forces and economic growth would have produced a similar chronology of rises and falls in income inequality even without shifts in the progressivity of redistribution through government. For economies starting from highly unequal property ownership, the development process lowers inequality. History suggests, however, that this may happen only once. Redistribution toward the poor tends to happen least in those times and polities where it would seem most justified by the usual goals of welfare policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Lindert & Wen Hai & Shunli Yao, 2003. "Three Centuries Of Inequality In Britain And America," Working Papers 242, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:242
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://repec.dss.ucdavis.edu/files/qwkZr6sFjs9egJWvtcvcaj1m/97-9.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Feenstra, R.C. & Hanson, G.H., 1995. "Foreign Investment, Outsourcing and Relative Wages," Papers 95-14, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    3. Lillard, Lee A, 1977. "Inequality: Earnings vs. Human Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 42-53, March.
    4. Roderick Floud & Bernard Harris, 1997. "Health, Height, and Welfare: Britain, 1700-1980," NBER Chapters,in: Health and Welfare during Industrialization, pages 91-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Bourguignon, F. & Morrisson, C., 1990. "Income distribution, development and foreign trade : A cross-sectional analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1113-1132, September.
    6. Kristov, Lorenzo & Lindert, Peter & McClelland, Robert, 1992. "Pressure groups and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 135-163, July.
    7. Boyer, George R., 1985. "An economic model of the English Poor Law circa 1780-1834," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 129-167, April.
    8. Lawrence F. Katz & Gary W. Loveman & David G. Blanchflower, 1995. "A Comparison of Changes in the Structure of Wages in Four OECD Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 25-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Fan, C Cindy & Casetti, Emilio, 1994. "The Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of U.S. Regional Income Inequality, 1950-1989," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 28(2), pages 177-196.
    10. Johnson, Paul & Webb, Steven, 1993. "Explaining the Growth in UK Income Inequality: 1979-1988," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(417), pages 429-435, March.
    11. Arthur F. Burns, 1954. "The Frontiers of Economic Knowledge," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number burn54-1, January.
    12. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1995. "Accounting for Inequality Trends: Decomposition Analyses for the UK, 1971-86," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 62(245), pages 29-63, February.
    13. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U. S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-397.
    14. 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.
    15. Horrell, Sara & Humphries, Jane, 1992. "Old Questions, New Data, and Alternative Perspectives: Families' Living Standards in the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 849-880, December.
    16. Lynn Karoly & Gary Burtless, 1995. "Demographic change, rising earnings inequality, and the distribution of personal well-being, 1959–1989," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 32(3), pages 379-405, August.
    17. Barro, Robert J, 1996. "Democracy and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-27, March.
    18. Thomas A. Husted, 1991. "Changes In State Income Inequality From 1981 To 1987," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 21(3), pages 249-260, Fall.
    19. McKinley L. Blackburn & David E. Bloom, 1987. "The Effects of Technological Change on Earnings and Income Inequality inthe United States," NBER Working Papers 2337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
    21. Arthur F. Burns, 1954. "Foreword to "The Frontiers of Economic Knowledge"," NBER Chapters,in: The Frontiers of Economic Knowledge, pages -2 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Gary Burtless, 1995. "International Trade and the Rise in Earnings Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(2), pages 800-816, June.
    23. R. V. Jackson, 1987. "The structure of pay in nineteenth-century Britain," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 40(4), pages 561-570, November.
    24. Donohue, John J, III & Heckman, James, 1991. "Continuous versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1603-1643, December.
    25. Hunt, E. H., 1986. "Industrialization and Regional Inequality: Wages in Britain, 1760–1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(04), pages 935-966, December.
    26. Richard B. Freeman, 1980. "Unionism and the Dispersion of Wages," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(1), pages 3-23, October.
    27. Vani Borooah & Patricia McKee, 1996. "How much did working wives contribute to changes in income inequality between couples in the UK?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 17(1), pages 59-78, February.
    28. Coelho, Philip R. P. & Shepherd, James F., 1976. "Regional differences in real wages: The United States, 1851-1880," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 203-230, April.
    29. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1977_32n1_0352 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    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:cda:wpaper:242. 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: (DSS IT Service Center). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/educdus.html .

    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 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.

    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.