Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700 by Lindert, Peter H.Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700 by Lindert, Peter H.

Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700

byLindert, Peter H., Jeffrey G. Williamson

Hardcover | April 19, 2016

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Unequal Gains offers a radically new understanding of the economic evolution of the United States, providing a complete picture of the uneven progress of America from colonial times to today.

While other economic historians base their accounts on American wealth, Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson focus instead on income-and the result is a bold reassessment of the American economic experience. America has been exceptional in its rising inequality after an egalitarian start, but not in its long-run growth.

America had already achieved world income leadership by 1700, not just in the twentieth century as is commonly thought. Long before independence, American colonists enjoyed higher living standards than Britain-and America's income advantage today is no greater than it was three hundred years ago. But that advantage was lost during the Revolution, lost again during the Civil War, and lost a third time during the Great Depression, though it was regained after each crisis. In addition, Lindert and Williamson show how income inequality among Americans rose steeply in two great waves-from 1774 to 1860 and from the 1970s to today-rising more than in any other wealthy nation in the world. Unequal Gains also demonstrates how the widening income gaps have always touched every social group, from the richest to the poorest. The book sheds critical light on the forces that shaped American income history, and situates that history in a broad global context.

Economic writing at its most stimulating, Unequal Gains provides a vitally needed perspective on who has benefited most from American growth, and why.

Peter H. Lindert is Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of California, Davis. His books include Growing Public: Social Spending and Economic Growth since the Eighteenth Century. He lives in Davis, California. Jeffrey G. Williamson is the Laird Bell Professor of Economics, emeritus, at Harvard University. His books i...
Title:Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700Format:HardcoverDimensions:424 pagesPublished:April 19, 2016Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691170495

ISBN - 13:9780691170497

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsix


1 Persistent Debate, a New Approach, More Data, Rich Findings 1

2 Colonial Incomes on the Eve of the Revolution 13

3 When Did Colonial America Get Rich? 43

4 Losing the Lead: Th e Cost of Revolution and Independence 77

5 Unequal Economic Growth, 1800- 1860 96

6 The Civil War: Growth Lost, Freedom Gained, Inequality Maintained 142

7 Contending Forces: American Incomes across the Late Nineteenth Century 166

8 The Greatest Leveling of All Time 194

9 Rising Inequality Once More, since the 1970s 219

10 Inequality and Growth: History Lessons for the Future 242

Appendix A A Guide to the 1774 and 1800 Income Estimates263

Appendix B Salaries, Payment in Kind, and Workdays279

Appendix C Estimating Slaves' Retained Earnings, Colonial Times to 1860287

Appendix D American versus British Prices, 1640- 1875304

Appendix E A Guide to the 1860 Income Estimates, and Some Modifications for 1850311

Appendix F A Guide to the 1870 Income Estimates320

Appendix G Farm Operators' Incomes in 1870327

Appendix H Sources and Notes to Tables and Figures in Main Text349



Editorial Reviews

"There is growing academic and policy concern about rising inequality in America, and this timely and engagingly written book has the potential to play an important role in those debates."-Jeremy Atack, coauthor of A New Economic View of American History