Intergenerational Wealth Accumulation and Dispersion in the Ottoman Empire: Observations from Eighteenth-Century Kastamonu
This article studies the accumulation and intergenerational transmission of wealth in early-modern Ottoman Anatolia by employing data from probate estate inventories (terekes) as found in the court records (sicils) of eighteenth-century Kastamonu, a town located in northern Anatolia. Extracting information on the wealth levels and personal characteristics of father-son pairs in the period between 1710 and 1806, we conduct regression analysis of factors determining the wealth of sons. In this first attempt to simultaneously analyze the estate inventories of parents and children in the Ottoman Empire, we also compare our results with those obtained for regions that were growing rapidly in this era and discuss the implications of our findings for the prospects of capital accumulation in the Ottoman context. Our results show that wealth holding was more equal in Kastamonu than in Britain in the eighteenth century. This was caused in part by the significantly lower transmission of wealth from fathers to sons. Although there was a significant correlation between the wealth-levels of fathers and sons in Kastamonu, this relationship was weaker there than what has been observed for eighteenth-century Britain. Regression to the mean among the sons was more rapid in Kastamonu. Finally, in at least one Ottoman context, our calculations cast doubt on the argument that Islamic inheritance practices led to excessive levels of wealth fragmentation.
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