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Reexamining the Distribution of Wealth in 1870

  • Joshua L. Rosenbloom
  • Gregory W. Stutes

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11482.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11482.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Rosenbloom, Joshua (ed.) Quantitative Economic History (Routledge Explorations in Economic History). Routledge, 2008.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11482
Note: DAE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Richard H. Steckel, 1989. "Poverty and Prosperity: A Longitudinal Study of Wealth Accumulation, 1850-1860," NBER Historical Working Papers 0008, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  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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