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Income level and income inequality in the Euro-Mediterranean region: from the Principate to the Islamic conquest

Milanovic, Branko (2010): Income level and income inequality in the Euro-Mediterranean region: from the Principate to the Islamic conquest.

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Abstract

Was the Euro-Mediterranean region at the time of the Roman empire and its Western successor states, more unequal than the European Union is today? We use some scant evidence on personal income distribution within the Empire and differences in average regional incomes to conclude that the Empire was more homogeneous, in terms of regional incomes, than today's EU, and inter-personal inequality was low. Moreover, income inequality was likely less around year 700 than in Augustus's time. The latter finding contrasts with a view of rising inequality as the Western Roman Empire dissolved.

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