Inequality and Economic History
Key lessons from history on income inequality Guido Alfani provides an overview on income inequality based on recently available times series of key inequality indicators from the past, and explains why they are relevant for current debates. Recent research on economic history has unearthed previously unknown facts about the long-term trends in inequality. We now have, for at least some areas of Europe, time series of key inequality indicators from ca. 1300. These new data are changing the way in which we perceive economic inequality, not only in the past, but even today. A key lesson from history is that economic inequality (especially, but not only, of wealth) has a marked tendency for increasing over time, and only catastrophes on the scale of the Black Death or the World Wars managed to bring it down, albeit temporarily.