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Michael Pammer: »Interregional and Intraregional Wealth Inequality in Nineteenth Century Austria«, Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte 2013/1, 37–55.

Abstract: The paper addresses changes in income and wealth inequality in the first decades of modern economic growth. It relies on wealth data gained from probate inventories established in those provinces of the Habsburg Empire that eventually formed the Republic of Austria. These sources cover the whole population in the period between 1820 and 1913, including unpropertied persons. The analysis is based on a sample that consists of about 7,000 cases. The paper first examines wealth distribution on an aggregate level, using the Gini coefficient as a measure of inequality. As a result, the Austrian economy follows a Kuznets curve but rise and decline are not particularly steep. Further, these results are compared with the development within the regions, which yields quite different results for the regions involved. These results do not show the consistent picture of high inequality in more advanced regions and low inequality in backward regions, that might be expected following the basic assumptions underlying the Kuznets curve. The explanation of the specific development within the different regions includes includes factors like class structure, family structure and patterns of inheritance, which explain why sectoral change, urbanization and other processes did not create a uniform pattern of wealth distribution in those provinces.