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Risk, Asset Markets and Inequality: Evidence from Medieval England

  • Cliff T. Bekar
  • 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. Maristella Botticini & Aloysius Siow, 1999. "Why Dowries?," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 95, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
    2. David de la Croix & Matthias Doepke, 2003. "Inequality and Growth: Why Differential Fertility Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1091-1113, September.
    3. 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.
    4. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2007. "Distributional Effects of Globalization in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 12885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Reed, Clyde G. & Bekar, Cliff T., 2003. "Religious prohibitions against usury," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 347-368, October.
    6. Kimball, Miles S, 1988. "Farmers' Cooperatives as Behavior Toward Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 224-32, March.
    7. 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.
    8. Gregory Clark & Gillian Hamilton, 2006. "Survival of the Richest: The Malthusian Mechanism in Pre-Industrial England," Working Papers 615, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    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. 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.
    14. Dyer,Christopher, 1989. "Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521272155.
    15. Marcle Fafchamps, 1999. "Risk sharing and quasi-credit," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 257-278.
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