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Top incomes and the ruling class in Latin American history. Some theoretical and methodological challenges

Top incomes and the ruling class in Latin American history. Some theoretical and methodological... Recent studies on income inequality have some characteristics that differentiate them from their earlier counterparts. The spotlight on high incomes has illuminated a new angle from which to view income inequality. Because estimates of top income shares can be used as a proxy for power inequality, they can enrich our comprehension of the role of the elite in Latin America’s economic development. However, scholars interested in studying the history of economic inequality in Latin America face certain methodological and theoretical problems of their own: (1) because food and other commodities such as minerals represent the lion’s share of exported goods in Latin America, cycles in commodity prices have shaped the region’s economic history. Thus, the crux of income inequality in Latin America is who becomes richer and who becomes poorer when exports prices rise and fall; and (2) the sort of fiscal statistics typically used capture only a few countries and sometimes only limited periods. Thus, as I argue, scholars should use dynamic social tables to produce new information. I exemplify both points with a historical analysis of three Latin American countries: Chile, Colombia, and Argentina. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Economic History of Developing Regions Taylor & Francis

Top incomes and the ruling class in Latin American history. Some theoretical and methodological challenges

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References (78)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
© 2023 Economic History Society of Southern Africa
ISSN
2078-0397
eISSN
2078-0389
DOI
10.1080/20780389.2023.2188438
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Recent studies on income inequality have some characteristics that differentiate them from their earlier counterparts. The spotlight on high incomes has illuminated a new angle from which to view income inequality. Because estimates of top income shares can be used as a proxy for power inequality, they can enrich our comprehension of the role of the elite in Latin America’s economic development. However, scholars interested in studying the history of economic inequality in Latin America face certain methodological and theoretical problems of their own: (1) because food and other commodities such as minerals represent the lion’s share of exported goods in Latin America, cycles in commodity prices have shaped the region’s economic history. Thus, the crux of income inequality in Latin America is who becomes richer and who becomes poorer when exports prices rise and fall; and (2) the sort of fiscal statistics typically used capture only a few countries and sometimes only limited periods. Thus, as I argue, scholars should use dynamic social tables to produce new information. I exemplify both points with a historical analysis of three Latin American countries: Chile, Colombia, and Argentina.

Journal

Economic History of Developing RegionsTaylor & Francis

Published: Sep 2, 2023

Keywords: Inequality; Latin America; ruling class; top incomes; social tables; ground rent inflows

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