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Economic inequality in pre-industrial Germany, 1300-1850

Journal of Economic History, 2022, Vol. 82 (1), pp.87-125 - joint work with Guido Alfani and Felix Schaff

This article provides an overview of wealth inequality in Germany during 1300– 1850, introducing a novel database. We document four alternating phases of inequality decline and growth. The Black Death (1347–1352) led to inequality decline, until about 1450. Thereafter, inequality rose steadily. The Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) and the 1627–1629 plague triggered a second phase of inequality reduction. This distinguishes Germany from other European areas where inequality grew monotonically. Inequality growth resumed from about 1700, well before the Industrial Revolution. Our findings offer new material to current debates on the determinants of inequality change in western societies, past and present.

Data for Germany from Paper.

Data for Italy from Alfani (2015) and Alfani & Ammannati (2017).

Data for the Netherlands from Alfani & Ryckbosch (2016).

See paper bibliography.