Graduate level, 7.5 credit points
This course discusses the history of economic and social inequality, focusing on the Western world since the Middle Ages. The aim is to bring students up to speed withthe research frontier in research on historical inequality. While some attention is paid to classic studies, the emphasis is on newer research.The core issues are these:
First, what is defined as inequality and what is measured? Concepts of income and wealth are introduced and discussed, and we discuss alternative empirical approaches to the overall theme of “inequality”. The disciplinary divides and boundaries between economics, economic history, history, sociology andother relevant disciplines are discussed. We discuss the connections between economic, social, and political inequality in history. We also go through the main types of sources used in historical studies of inequality: tax data, probate inventories and wills, and social tables.
Second, we go through recent empirical research on economic inequality through history. We discuss strengths and limitations of the literature and what we know a lotabout and what is omitted from the literature. We discuss where the research field isgoing and what kind of research is needed going forward. The course gives students a deeper understanding of economic inequality, its history and its development.