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Inequality in nineteenth century Manhattan: Evidence from the housing market

Rowena Gray ()

No 2020-02, QUCEH Working Paper Series from Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History

Abstract: Historical inequality is difficult to measure, especially at the sub-country level and beyond the top income shares. This paper presents new evidence on the level of inequality in Manhattan from 1880 to 1910 using housing rents. Rental prices and characteristics, including geocodable locations, were collected from newspapers and provide extensive geographic coverage of the island, relevant for the overwhelming majority of its population where renting predominated. This provides a measure of consumption inequality at the household level which helps to develop the picture of urban inequality for this period, when income and wealth measures are scarce. For large American cities, but particularly for New York, housing made up a large share of consumption expenditure and its consumption cannot be substituted, so this is a reliable and feasible way to identify the true trends in urban inequality across space and time.

Keywords: inequality; housing markets; measurement; consumption inequality; New York (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N31 N91 R31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his and nep-ure
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:zbw:qucehw:202002

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