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Risk, Asset Markets, and Inequality: Evidence from Medieval England

Author

Listed:
  • Cliff T. Bekar

    (Lewis & Clark College)

  • Clyde G. Reed

    (Simon Fraser University)

Abstract

Between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries English peasants faced large income shocks relative to mean incomes. Innovations in property rights over land induced peasants to respond by trading small parcels of land as part of their risk coping strategy. The same period witnessed a dramatic increase in inequality in the distribution of peasant landholdings. We argue that these events are related. When agents are able to trade their productive assets to manage risk, wealth dynamics become unstable and generate increasing inequality over time. We analyze the effects of these dynamics in the context of medieval English land markets and peasant landholdings.

Suggested Citation

  • Cliff T. Bekar & Clyde G. Reed, 2009. "Risk, Asset Markets, and Inequality: Evidence from Medieval England," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _079, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_079
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/4235/BekarReed79.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Paul A. David & S. Ryan Johansson & Andrea Pozzi, 2010. "The Demography of an Early Mortality Transition: Life Expectancy, Survival and Mortality Rates for Britain's Royals, 1500-1799," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _083, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.

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