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Australian Squatters, Convicts, and Capitalists: Dividing Up a Fast-Growing Frontier Pie 1821-1871

Laura Panza, Jeffrey G. Williamson

NBER Working Paper No. 23416
Issued in May 2017
NBER Program(s):The Development Economics Program

Compared with its nineteenth century competitors, Australian GDP per worker grew exceptionally fast, about twice that of the US and three times that of Britain. This paper asks whether the fast growth performance produced rising inequality. Using a novel data set we offer new evidence supporting unambiguously the view that, in sharp contrast with US, Australia underwent a revolutionary levelling in incomes between the 1820s and the 1870s. This assessment is based on our annual estimates of functional shares in the form of land rents, convict incomes, free unskilled incomes, free skill premiums, British imperial transfers and a capitalist residual.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23416

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