The Journal of Economic Inequality

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 225–247 | Cite as

Inequality in the very long run: inferring inequality from data on social groups

Article

Abstract

This paper presents a new method for calculating Gini coefficients from tabulations of the mean income of social classes. Income distribution data from before the Industrial Revolution usually come in the form of such tabulations, called social tables. Inequality indices generated from social tables are frequently calculated without adjusting for within-group income dispersion, leading to a systematic downward bias in the reporting of pre-industrial inequality. The correction method presented in this paper is applied 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 coefficients.

Keywords

Pre-industrial inequality Social tables Kuznets curve History 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Supplementary material

10888_2014_9279_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (255 kb)
(PDF 255 KB)

References

  1. 1.
    Aitchison, J., Brown, J.A.C.: The Lognormal Distribution, with special reference to its uses in economics. 1st edn. Cambridge University Press (1957)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bourguignon, F., Morrisson, C.: Inequality among World Citizens: 1820–1992. Am. Econ. Rev. 92(4), 727–744 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Clark, G.: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World. Princeton University Press (2008)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Crow, E.L., Shimizu, K.: Lognormal distributions: theory and applications. 1 edn. CRC Press (1987)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ebert, U.: The decomposition of inequality reconsidered: weakly decomposable measures. Math. Social Sci. 60(2), 94–103 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gastwirth, J.L.: The estimation of the Lorenz curve and gini index. Rev. Econ. Stat. 54(3), 306–316 (1972)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hoffman, P.T., Jacks, D.S., Levin, P.A., Lindert, P.H.: Real inequality in Europe since 1500. J. Econ. Hist. 62(2), 322–355 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kakwani, N.: Income inequality and poverty: methods of estimation and policy applications. A World Bank Research Publication (1980)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kuznets, S.: Economic Growth and Income Inequality. Am. Econ. Rev. 45(1), 1–28 (1955)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lambert, P.J., Aronson, J.R.: Inequality decomposition analysis and the Gini coefficient revisited. Econ. J. 103(420), 1221–1227 (1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lindert, P.H.: Three centuries of inequality in Britain and America. Handb. Income Distrib. 1, 167–216 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Milanovic, B.: True world income distribution, 1988 and 1993: First calculation based on household surveys alone. Econ. J. 112(476), 51–92 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Milanovic, B.: An estimate of average income and inequality in Byzantium around year 1000. Rev. Income Wealth 52(3), 449–470 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Milanovic, B., Lindert, P.H., Williamson, J.G.: Measuring ancient inequality. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series, 13550 (2007)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Milanovic, B., Lindert, P.H., Williamson, J.G.: Pre-industrial inequality. Econ. J. 121(551), 255–272 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Minnesota Population Center: Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, International: Version 6.0 [Machine-readable database]Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    van Zanden, J.L.: Tracing the beginning of the Kuznets Curve: Western Europe during the early modern period. Econ. Hist. Rev. 48(4), 643–664 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Yitzhaki, S., Lerman, R.I.: Income stratification and income inequality. Rev. Income Wealth 37(3), 313–329 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Young, A.: The Gini coefficient for a mixture of ln-normal populations. Mimeo, London School of Economics (2011)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research DepartmentStatistics NorwayOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations