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Risk, Asset Markets and Inequality: Evidence from Medieval England

  • Cliff T. Bekar and Clyde Reed
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/4235/BekarReed79.pdf
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    Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number Number 79.

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    Date of creation: 01 Oct 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:number-79
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    1. Hatcher, John & Bailey, Mark, 2001. "Modelling the Middle Ages: The History and Theory of England's Economic Development," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199244126, March.
    2. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2007. "Distributional Effects of Globalization in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(1), pages 39-82, March.
    3. John Heaton & Deborah Lucas, 1993. "Evaluating the Effects of Incomplete Markets on Risk Sharing and Asset Pricing," NBER Working Papers 4249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Botticini, Maristella, 1999. "A Loveless Economy? Intergenerational Altruism and the Marriage Market in a Tuscan Town, 1415–1436," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(01), pages 104-121, March.
    5. Zimmerman, Frederick J. & Carter, Michael R., 2003. "Asset smoothing, consumption smoothing and the reproduction of inequality under risk and subsistence constraints," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 233-260, August.
    6. Junichi Kanzaka, 2002. "Villein rents in thirteenth–century England: an analysis of the Hundred Rolls of 1279–1280," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 55(4), pages 593-618, November.
    7. Clark, Gregory & Hamilton, Gillian, 2006. "Survival of the Richest: The Malthusian Mechanism in Pre-Industrial England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(03), pages 707-736, September.
    8. Kimball, Miles S, 1988. "Farmers' Cooperatives as Behavior Toward Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 224-32, March.
    9. Piketty, Thomas, 1997. "The Dynamics of the Wealth Distribution and the Interest Rate with Credit Rationing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 173-89, April.
    10. DE LA CROIX, David & DOEPKE, Matthias, . "Inequality and growth: why differential fertility matters," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1676, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    11. Maristella Botticini & Aloysius Siow, 2000. "Why Dowries?," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0200, Econometric Society.
    12. Kranton, Rachel E, 1996. "Reciprocal Exchange: A Self-Sustaining System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 830-51, September.
    13. Marcle Fafchamps, 1999. "Risk sharing and quasi-credit," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 257-278.
    14. Reed, Clyde G. & Bekar, Cliff T., 2003. "Religious prohibitions against usury," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 347-368, October.
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