Compare And Contrast

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THE PLANK NOVEMBER 2, 2007

Compare And Contrast

Zubin Jelvah reports that economists have devised a new method for comparing economic inequality in different historical eras. It looks like the United States today is more unequal than the early Roman Empire, but not quite as unequal as nineteenth-century England:

There's plenty more in the post itself, including an argument that modern nations aren't nearly as unequal as they could be, whereas pre-industrial nations, more often than not, tended to reach their maximum "potential" for inequality. Not sure how useful this all is, though: Surely 19th century China only looks relatively "equal" because it had hundreds of millions of peasants and an extremely tiny (in comparison) ruling class, right?

--Bradford Plumer

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