Sketching the Rise of Real Inequality in Early Modern Europe
The concept of real, as opposed to nominal or conventional, income inequality reveals pronounced inequality movements, because relative prices happened to move very differently for the poor and the rich before 1914. Between 1500 and 1790 to 1815, the prices of staple foods rose much more than the prices of what the rich consumed. This greatly magnified the rise in real-income inequality. The opposite happened between 1815 and 1914. Looking at life expectancy, rather than at annual income or consumption, we again find a widening of inequality in the eighteenth century, at least within the countries of Western Europe.
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