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Inequality of Wealth in the Ottoman Empire: War, Weather, and Long-Term Trends in Eighteenth-Century Kastamonu

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 May 2012

Professor of Economics, University of Connecticut, Unit 1063, 341 Mansfield Road, Storrs, CT 06269-1063 E-mail:
Associate Professor of History, University of Vermont, 133 South Prospect Street, Burlington, VT 05405 E-mail:


This article offers a quantitative analysis of wealth inequality in the Ottoman Empire, employing data from probate inventories (terekes) of eighteenth-century Kastamonu, a town located in northern Anatolia. Extracting information on wealth levels and personal characteristics of individuals, we estimate aggregate measures of wealth inequality, namely the Gini coefficient, the coefficient of variation, and the wealth shares of the wealthiest 10 and 25 percent of estates. We use regression analysis to identify the time trend of wealth inequality and determine how warfare, significant weather events, macroeconomic variables, and shifts in population characteristics affected it.

Copyright © The Economic History Association 2012

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