American Incomes before and after the Revolution
NBER Working Paper No. 17211
Building social tables in the tradition of Gregory King, we develop new estimates suggesting that between 1774 and 1800 American incomes fell in real per capita terms. The colonial South was richer than the North at the start, but was already beginning to lose its income lead by 1800. We also find that free American colonists had much more equal incomes than did households in England and Wales. The colonists also had greater purchasing power than their English counterparts over all of the income ranks except in the top few percent.
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This paper was revised on February 14, 2013