Working paper

Wealth Inequality in Pre-industrial Rural England

Yuzuru Kumon


How unequal were the commons preceding their enclosure in the 18th-19th cen-turies? This paper uses data from the parliamentary enclosure acts to estimate in-equality. Inclusive of the landless, I find gini coefficients ranged from 0.65-0.82 while the landless typically composed 40-50% of the population. Despite these regions be-ing the most equal within England at the time, their inequality was similar to typical villages in contemporary Italy and less equal than those in Germany or Japan. This confirms that the commons, most of which were enclosed by the 19th century, were already highly unequal and this paved the way to enclosure.

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Published in

IAST working paper, n. 21-124, October 2021