Author(s): Hector Garcia-Montero
This paper provides some initial results of long-term trends in economic inequality in Catalonia from 1400-1800 ca. These first findings show that the evidence collected for Catalonia matches quite well with some hypotheses suggested previously in the literature. Namely, the high inequality levels prevalent across pre-industrial Europe; an inequality gradient that linked urban, more populated, and wealthier communities with greater inequality and vice versa; and the importance of the trends followed by the share owned by the wealthy as good predictors of economic inequality trends. However, at this stage, one of the most appealing propositions—the idea that economic inequality grew for the whole of Europe during the early-modern period, shaping a long left side of a “super Kuznets curve”—does not seem to be fully confirmed for Catalonia. From the mid-17th century, inequality growth seems to go hand-in-hand with growth in per capita GDP. In earlier periods, though, the inequality trend seems to be unrelated to economic growth and even, during the second half of the 16th century, there is some evidence of inequality decline coupled with economic growth.
Keywords: Economic inequality; social inequality; wealth distribution; income distribution; middle ages; early modern period; Catalonia; Spain