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Towards an explanation of inequality in pre-modern societies:the role of colonies and high population density

Milanovic, Branko (2016): Towards an explanation of inequality in pre-modern societies:the role of colonies and high population density.

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Abstract

Using the newly expanded set of 40 social tables from pre-modern societies, the paper tries to find out the factors associated with the level of inequality and the inequality extraction ratio (how close to the maximum inequality have the elites pushed the actual inequality). We find strong evidence that elites in colonies were more extractive, and that more densely populated countries exhibited lower extraction ratios. We propose several possibilities linking high population density to low inequality and to low elite extraction.

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