Economic history

Gunes Aşik, Ulaş Karakoç, Sevket Pamuk, 17 October 2020

Unlike for developed countries, only a limited number of studies exist on the long-term evolution of regional inequalities in today’s developing countries. With the help of a novel dataset, this column examines the evolution of regional income inequality within present-day borders of Turkey. It finds an inverse U-shaped pattern for regional disparities since 1880, with a peak at around 1950 (although the East lagged further behind until the end of the 20th century). A combination of causes led by geography, including proximity to Europe, structural change, industrialisation and agglomeration economies, as well as ethnic conflict and demographic movements, appear to be behind this pattern.

Mark Koyama, 16 October 2020

Seven hundred years ago the worst pandemic in history killed almost half the population of Europe and the Middle East. Mark Koyama tells Tim Phillips about the centuries-long economic impact of the Black Death.

Guido Alfani, 15 October 2020

The relationship between pandemics and inequality is of significant interest at the moment. The Black Death in the 14th century is one salient example of a pandemic which dramatically decreased wealth inequality, but this column argues that the Black Death is exceptional in this respect. Pandemics in subsequent centuries have failed to significantly reduce inequality, due to different institutional environments and labour market effects. This evidence suggests that inequality and poverty are likely to increase in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis.

Valeria Rueda, 09 October 2020

Some ethnic groups are active in African politics, and some are not. Valeria Rueda tells Tim Phillips the fascinating story of how two socioeconomic revolutions more than a century ago shaped post-colonial political power.

Sergio Galletta, Tommaso Giommoni, 03 October 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak is expected to increase income inequality around the world as the poorer are likely to be hit harder by the pandemic’s negative economic impact. Focusing on Italy, this column argues that such distributional consequences also appeared during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Income inequality became higher in areas more afflicted by the flu pandemic, and this is mostly explained by a reduction in the share of income held by poorer people. This effect seems to persist even a century after the pandemic.

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