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Wealth concentration ina developing economy: Paris and France, 1807-1994

Author

Listed:
  • Thomas Piketty

    (PJSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Gilles Postel-Vinay

    (LEA - Laboratoire d'Economie Appliquée - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique)

  • Jean-Laurent Rosenthal

    (UCLA - University of California at Los Angeles [Los Angeles])

Abstract

Using large samples of estate tax returns, we construct new series on wealth concentration in Paris and France from 1807 to 1994. Inequality increased until 1914 because industrial and financial estates grew dramatically. Then, adverse shocks, rather than a Kuznets-type process, led to a massive decline in inequality. The very high wealth concentration prior to 1914 benefited retired individuals living off capital income (rentiers) rather than entrepreneurs. The very rich were in their seventies and eighties, whereas they had been in their fifties a half century earlier and would be so again after World War II. Our results shed new light on ongoing debates about wealth inequality and growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Piketty & Gilles Postel-Vinay & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 2006. "Wealth concentration ina developing economy: Paris and France, 1807-1994," Post-Print halshs-00754643, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00754643
    DOI: 10.1257/000282806776157614
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal-pjse.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00754643
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Morrisson, Christian, 2000. "Historical perspectives on income distribution: The case of Europe," Handbook of Income Distribution,in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 217-260 Elsevier.
    2. Lindert, Peter H., 2000. "Three centuries of inequality in Britain and America," Handbook of Income Distribution,in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 3, pages 167-216 Elsevier.
    3. A. B. Atkinson, 2005. "Top incomes in the UK over the 20th century," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 168(2), pages 325-343.
    4. Lindert, Peter H, 1986. "Unequal English Wealth since 1670," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(6), pages 1127-1162, December.
    5. Andrea Brandolini & Anthony B. Atkinson, 2001. "Promise and Pitfalls in the Use of "Secondary" Data-Sets: Income Inequality in OECD Countries As a Case Study," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 771-799, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • N20 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General

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