Wealth Inequality in Sweden, 1750–1900

23 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2018

See all articles by Anna Missiaia

Anna Missiaia

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Erik Bengtsson

Lund University

Mats Olsson

Lund University

Patrick Svensson

Quartz Strategy Consultants

Date Written: August 2018

Abstract

This article examines the evolution of wealth inequality in Sweden from 1750 to 1900, contributing both to the debate on early modern and modern inequality and to the general debate on the pattern of inequality during industrialization. The pre‐industrial period (1750–1850) is for the first time examined for Sweden at the national level. The study uses a random sample of probate inventories from urban and rural areas across the country, adjusted for age and social class. Estimates are provided for the years 1750, 1800, 1850, and 1900. The results show a gradual growth in inequality as early as the mid‐eighteenth century, with the sharpest rise in the late nineteenth century. Whereas the early growth in inequality was connected to changes in the countryside and in agriculture, the later growth was related to industrialization encompassing both compositional effects and strong wealth accumulation among the richest. The level of inequality in Sweden in 1750 was lower than for other western European countries, but by 1900 Sweden was just as unequal.

Suggested Citation

Missiaia, Anna and Bengtsson, Erik and Olsson, Mats and Svensson, Patrick, Wealth Inequality in Sweden, 1750–1900 (August 2018). The Economic History Review, Vol. 71, Issue 3, pp. 772-794, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3212419 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12576

Anna Missiaia

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Erik Bengtsson (Contact Author)

Lund University

Box 117
Lund, S221 00
Sweden

Mats Olsson

Lund University

Patrick Svensson

Quartz Strategy Consultants

Kohavevej 5
2950 Vedbaek
Denmark

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