Department of Economics
University of Melbourne
Institutional Affiliation: University of Melbourne
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|October 2017||The Social Implications of Sugar: Living Costs, Real Incomes and Inequality in Jamaica c1774|
with Trevor Burnard, Jeffrey G. Williamson: w23897
This paper provides the first quantitative assessment of Jamaican standards of living and income inequality around 1774. To this purpose we compute welfare ratios for a range of occupations and build a social table. We find that the slave colony had extremely high living costs, which rose steeply during the American War of Independence, and low standards of living, particularly for its enslaved population. Our results also show that due to its extreme poverty surrounding extreme wealth Jamaica was the most unequal place in the pre-modern world. Furthermore, all of these characteristics applied to the free population alone.
|May 2017||Australian Squatters, Convicts, and Capitalists: Dividing Up a Fast-Growing Frontier Pie 1821-1871|
with Jeffrey G. Williamson: w23416
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.