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Reexamining the Distribution of Wealth in 1870

Author

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  • Joshua L. Rosenbloom
  • Gregory W. Stutes

Abstract

This paper uses data on real and personal property ownership collected in the 1870 Federal Census to explore factors influencing individual wealth accumulation and the aggregate distribution of wealth in the United States near the middle of the nineteenth century. Previous analyses of these data have relied on relatively small samples, or focused on population subgroups. By using the much larger sample available in the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) we are able to disaggregate the data much more finely than has previously been possible allowing us to explore differences in inequality across space and between different population groups. The data provide strong support for the hypothesis that American industrialization during the nineteenth century resulted in increasing inequality in the distribution of wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua L. Rosenbloom & Gregory W. Stutes, 2005. "Reexamining the Distribution of Wealth in 1870," NBER Working Papers 11482, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11482
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Steckel, Richard H. & Moehling, Carolyn M., 2001. "Rising Inequality: Trends In The Distribution Of Wealth In Industrializing New England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(01), pages 160-183, March.
    2. Steckel, Richard H, 1990. "Poverty and Prosperity: A Longitudinal Study of Wealth Accumulation, 1850-1860," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 275-285, May.
    3. Atack, Jeremy & Bateman, Fred, 1981. "Egalitarianism, Inequality, and Age: The Rural North in 1860," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(01), pages 85-93, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ohlsson, Henry & Roine, Jesper & Waldenstrom, Daniel, 2006. "Long-Run Changes in the Concentration of Wealth: An Overview of Recent Findings," WIDER Working Paper Series 103, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • R2 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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