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Comparing Income and Wealth Inequality in Pre-Industrial Economies: Lessons from 18th-Century Spain

Esteban Nicolini () and Fernando Ramos Palencia ()
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Fernando Ramos Palencia: Universidad Pablo de Olavide

Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Fernando Ramos-Palencia ()

No 95, Working Papers from European Historical Economics Society (EHES)

Abstract: Most research on the history of inequality in pre-industrial economies has focused on either wealth or income. Characterizing the distribution of wealth (resp., income) is problematic owing to insufficient information about the distributionÕs low (resp., high) end. Because the sources and methodologies differ between these two approaches, their results are not readily comparable and it is difficult to establish links between the respective distributions that result. In this paper, we shall use a unique data set for different regions of Spain circa 1750 and present resultsÑthe first for any preÐ20thcentury economyÑon both income and wealth distributions for the same sample of households. Information on wealth and income is derived from (respectively) probate inventories and the Ensenada Cadastre. Our main findings are that poor households are not entirely absent from the data set of inventories, that a householdÕs position in the income distribution is strongly correlated with its position in the wealth distribution, and that increases in a householdÕs wealth are associated with less thanproportional increases in its income.

Keywords: inequality; income; wealth; Spain; probate inventories; Ensenada Cadastre (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D31 N33 O15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his
Date: 2016-03
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