Income inequality in Paris in the heyday of the commercial revolution

Rising inequality in recent decades in the U.S. and other developed economies has again focused attention on the relationship between inequality and growth, and the relationship between inequality and heterogeneity in abilities. This paper is a preliminary report based on the analysis of data extracted from the tax returns (the taille) imposed by Philip the Fair from 1292 to 1313 on the Parisian middle class. The major finding reported in this paper is that inequality in Paris in the heyday of the Commercial Revolution was very high – a Gini coefficient of 0.7. The medieval Gini coefficient is larger than values recorded for Latin American. Inequality was general and was not confined to one sector or the other. As theory would predict, this inequality was reflected also in large skill and ability premiums and was higher in the high return occupations. Inequality was also very high in skilled occupations controlled by craft guilds such as weaving or construction. I also focus on the very wealthy and show that the elite were very socially mobile. Studying death rates of tax payers accounted for in the tax rolls, I find the death rate to be comparable with that 19th century Europe. The overall picture that emerges is that the Parisian economy of the late middle ages provided ample incentives for the acquisition of human capital and rewarded ability and skill, and in that respect was closer into the information age economy of today.


Publication infos:
Jerusalem, DEGIT (Dynamic Economics, Growth, and International Trade), 2006
Publication year:
2006
Number of pages:
44 p.
Collection:
DEGIT conference papers
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 Record created 2019-07-30, last modified 2019-08-05

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