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Towards an explanation of inequality in pre-modern societies:the role of colonies and high population density

Author

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  • Milanovic, Branko

Abstract

Using the newly expanded set of 40 social tables from pre-modern societies, the paper tries to find out the factors associated with the level of inequality and the inequality extraction ratio (how close to the maximum inequality have the elites pushed the actual inequality). We find strong evidence that elites in colonies were more extractive, and that more densely populated countries exhibited lower extraction ratios. We propose several possibilities linking high population density to low inequality and to low elite extraction.

Suggested Citation

  • Milanovic, Branko, 2016. "Towards an explanation of inequality in pre-modern societies:the role of colonies and high population density," MPRA Paper 74877, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:74877
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/74877/1/MPRA_paper_74877.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Esteban A. Nicolini & Fernando Ramos Palencia, 2016. "Decomposing income inequality in a backward pre-industrial economy: Old Castile (Spain) in the middle of the eighteenth century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(3), pages 747-772, August.
    2. Wouter Ryckbosch, 2014. "Economic inequality and growth before the industrial revolution: A case study of the Low Countries (14th-19th centuries)," Working Papers 067, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    3. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2016. "Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10670.
    4. Jørgen Modalsli, 2015. "Inequality in the very long run: inferring inequality from data on social groups," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 13(2), pages 225-247, June.
    5. Alfani, Guido, 2015. "Economic Inequality in Northwestern Italy: A Long-Term View (Fourteenth to Eighteenth Centuries)," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 75(04), pages 1058-1096, December.
    6. Willebald Remedios, Henry Francisco & Rodríguez, Javier & Castelnovo, Cecilia & Bértola, Luis, 2008. "Income distribution in the Latin American Southern Cone during the first globalization boom, ca: 1870-1920," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp08-05, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    7. J. L. Van Zanden, 1995. "Tracing the beginning of the Kuznets curve: western Europe during the early modern period," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 48(4), pages 643-664, November.
    8. Guido Alfani & Francesco Ammannati, 2014. "Economic inequality and poverty in the very long run: The case of the Florentine State," Working Papers 070, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. On Social Tables, Inequality and Pre-Industrial Societies
      by bbatiz in NEP-HIS blog on 2017-01-24 15:44:12

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    Cited by:

    1. Guido Alfani & Federico Tadei, 2017. "Income Inequality in Colonial Africa: Building Social Tables for Pre-Independence Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, and Senegal," Working Papers 594, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality; inequality extraction ratio; pre modern;

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

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