Via Brad Plumer, Jubin Zelveh reportson the development of new methods to measure inequality based on historical data.
His table is reproduced here and you can see that, as Jonathan Cohn could have told you, Denmark is awesome. I'm a bit surprised to see China in the late-nineteenth century and the Kingdom of Naples in the early nineteenth century come out as relatively egalitarian. My understanding had been that primarily agricultural societies are almost always super unequal since wealth (i.e. land) tends to be more unequally distributed than income, but iin societies like that a very large share of income goes to landowners as such. But perhaps not. He also says we have a ways to go in terms of upward redistribution of wealth:
It turns out that the typical modern nation has extracted about 33% of the available inequality (for the U.S. it's about 41%, for China it's 47%) while the researchers' sample of past societies squeezed out almost all of the available inequality.
Something to look forward to?
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