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Tracing the Beginning of the Kuznets Curve: Western Europe during the Early Modern Period

J. L. Van Zanden
The Economic History Review
New Series, Vol. 48, No. 4 (Nov., 1995), pp. 643-664
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Economic History Society
DOI: 10.2307/2598128
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2598128
Page Count: 22
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Tracing the Beginning of the Kuznets Curve: Western Europe during the Early Modern Period
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Abstract

This article examines the relationship between economic growth and changes in the distribution of income and wealth in Europe in the early modern period. On the basis of data from different countries it is suggested that in this period economic development tends to increase income and wealth inequality. A case study of the development of the distribution of income in Holland during its Golden Age confirms this hypothesis. Different explanations focusing on (I) increased urbanization, (2) rising skill premiums, and (3) a shift in the functional distribution of income' all contribute to its explanation. It is concluded that the upswing of the Kuznets probably started before 1800.

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