Evolution of Wealth Inequality

What changes in wealth equality will the information revolution bring? Data from anthropology suggest that as communities change their technology from foraging to farming to factory to faxes, wealth is distributed less equitably. The table shows this greater wealth inequality measured by the peakness of the distribution (kurtosis) and the Gini coefficient. The larger the wealth concentration number the greater wealth inequality. For this example community size is a surrogate for technology.


Community wealth distortion and concentration values.

Community     No  Wealth Unit		Wealth Concentration

Households Kurtosis Gini Coeff
Horailenda 63 pigs/household -0.4 0.34 Utatuu 30 wealth index/farm 0.6 0.59 Mohoweto 94 pigs/household 0.7 0.71 Yadaw 123 acres/household 0.8 0.59 Nondwin 82 acres/household 7.5 0.54 Botukebo 55 beads/individual 15.5 0.78 Tepoztlan 853 wealth score/family 18.2 0.58 Medong 255 acres/family 19.6 0.66 Arunpur 141 bighas/household 48.1 0.75 Siuai 220 spans/household 52.7 0.69 Oxfordshire 631 land value/owner 171.0 0.96 Basel 2536 size of estate 47.1 0.84 London 10735 pounds/household 207.5 0.87 Boston 2298 taxable wealth/man 291.4 0.77 Washington 7091 net worth/decedent 1494.1 0.95

For details see: Smith(1991:54)

Also see: Smith 1991 and 1980


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Updated:Friday, 26-Jan-1996 17:05:40 PST
URL is http://oregonstate.edu/instruction/anth484/wealtab.html