November 02, 2007

Compare and Contrast

From the department of curious graphs: Zubin Jelvah reports that economists have devised a new method for comparing economic inequality across different historical eras. The United States today turns out to be more unequal than the early Roman Empire, though the gulf isn't quite as wide as nineteenth-century England (yet):

There's plenty more in the post itself, including the point that modern nations aren't nearly as unequal as they could be, whereas pre-industrial nations tended to reach their maximum "potential" for inequality. Not sure how useful this all is, though: Surely 19th century China only looks relatively "equal" because it had hundreds of millions of peasants and an extremely tiny (in comparison) ruling class, right?
-- Brad Plumer 4:22 PM || ||