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Distributive patterns in settler economies: agrarian income inequality during the First Globalization (1870-1913)

ISSNISSN/ISBN: 1139-1472
ISSNYear: 2015
EditorialEditorial: Historia Agraria, nº 66
The aim of this paper is to identify different distributive patterns in the settler economies (Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand and Uruguay) during the First Globalization (1870-1913). I present the methodology, discuss the results and make conjectures about the long-run inequality. As agriculture was the most important activity in settler economies and one of the main sectors in leading the land frontier expansion, a study of generation of income and evolution of distribution in this sector is of main interest. First, I estimate agricultural income (or product) per worker and, based on a shift-share approach, I analyse the relative performance within the club focusing on (total and sectoral) growth and convergence. After that, I present the functional income distribution (total wages, land rents and profits) and discuss two distributive patterns. On the one hand, the ex-British territories promoted capitalist relationships with relative higher salaries and profits that encouraged larger markets and investment. On the other hand, in the former colonies of Spain, economic relationships were based on agrarian rentals, income concentration and low stimulus to the capital accumulation. During the period, income distribution worsened in the Australasian economies and Canada, but it worsened even more in the South American Southern Cone countries. These differences among settler economies are consistent with dissimilar dynamics of expansion onto new land and the conformation of institutional arrangements that caused unlike patterns of distribution.
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