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Title:Inequality and growth in the very long run: Inferring inequality from data on social groups PDF Logo
Authors:Modalsli, Jørgen Heibø
Issue Date:2011
Series/Report no.:Memorandum // Department of Economics, University of Oslo 2011,11
Abstract:Income distribution data from before the Industrial Revolution usually comes in the shape of social tables: inventories of a range of social groups and their mean incomes. These are frequently reported without adjusting for within-group income dispersion, leading to a systematic downward bias in the reporting of pre-industrial inequality. This paper suggests a correction method, and applies it to an existing collection of twenty-five social tables, from Rome in AD 1 to India in 1947. The corrections, using a variety of assumptions on within-group dispersion, lead to substantial increases in the Gini coeffcients. Combining the inequality levels with data on GDP, a robust positive relationship between income inequality and economic growth is confirmed. This supports earlier proposals, based on fewer data points, of a 'super Kuznets curve' of increasing inequality over the entire pre-industrial period.
Subjects:Pre-industrial inequality
social tables
Kuznets curve
history
JEL:D31
N30
O11
C65
Document Type:Working Paper
Appears in Collections:Memorandum, Department of Economics, University of Oslo

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