Australian Squatters, Convicts, and Capitalists: Dividing Up a Fast‐Growing Frontier Pie, 1821–7

27 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2019

See all articles by Laura Panza

Laura Panza

University of Melbourne

Jeffrey G. Williamson

Harvard University - Department of Economics, Laird Bell Professor of Economics, Emeritus; Honorary Fellow, University of Wisconsin - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: May 2019

Abstract

Compared with its competitors, Australian GDP per worker grew exceptionally quickly from the 1820s to the 1870s, at a rate about twice that of the US and three times that of Britain. Did this rapid growth produce rising inequality, following a Kuznets curve? Using a novel dataset, this article offers new evidence that provides unambiguous support for the view that, in sharp contrast with the US experience and with globalization‐inequality views concerning late nineteenth‐century frontiers, Australia underwent a revolutionary levelling in incomes up to the 1870s. This assessment is based on trends in many proxies for inequality, as well as annual estimates of functional income shares in the form of land rents, convict payments, free unskilled labour incomes, free skilled labour and white collar incomes, British imperial transfers, and a capitalist residual.

Suggested Citation

Panza, Laura and Williamson, Jeffrey G., Australian Squatters, Convicts, and Capitalists: Dividing Up a Fast‐Growing Frontier Pie, 1821–7 (May 2019). The Economic History Review, Vol. 72, Issue 2, pp. 568-594, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3367117 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12739

Laura Panza (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne ( email )

Jeffrey G. Williamson

Harvard University - Department of Economics, Laird Bell Professor of Economics, Emeritus ( email )

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