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Did it pay to be a pioneer? Wealth accumulation in a newly settled frontier society

Jeanne Cilliers (), Erik Green () and Robert Ross
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Jeanne Cilliers: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Box 7083, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Erik Green: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Box 7083, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Robert Ross: Institute for History, Leiden University

No 237, Lund Papers in Economic History from Lund University, Department of Economic History

Abstract: While wealth-holding patterns in rural areas have been well studied, the link between initial conditions, prospects for wealth accumulation, and the persistence of inequality at an agricultural frontier is less clear. On the one hand, the frontier is thought to have had a levelling effect, with the availability of cheap land acting as an equalizer. On the other hand, land rents, accumulated during the settlement process, are thought to have the opposite effect. In this paper, we contribute to the debate on inequality in pre-industrial societies using a unique dataset that allows us to identify different wealth-accumulation strategies in an agrarian frontier society: the Graaff-Reinet district in South Africa’s Cape Colony between 1786-1850.

Keywords: South Africa; pre-industrial; frontier; wealth accumulation; life-cycle (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N00 N37 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 43 pages
Date: 2022-02-18
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ban and nep-his
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