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Aristocratic Wealth and Inequality in a Changing Society: Sweden, 1750–1900

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Erik Bengtsson
Anna Missiaia
Mats Olsson
Patrick Svensson
Publicerad i Scandinavian Journal of History
Volym 44
Nummer/häfte 1
Sidor 27-52
ISSN 0346-8755
Publiceringsår 2019
Publicerad vid
Sidor 27-52
Språk en
Länkar https://doi.org/10.1080/03468755.20...
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/ful...
Ämnesord inequality, wealth, Sweden, nobility, economic stratification, social groups
Ämneskategorier Ekonomisk historia, Historia

Sammanfattning

The role of the European nobility and their ability to retain their political and economic power are part of the debate on the modernization of Europe’s economy. This paper contributes to the literature by exploring the wealth of the Swedish nobility as the country evolved from an agrarian to an industrial economy. We use a sample of 200+ probate inventories of nobles for each of the benchmark years 1750, 1800, 1850 and 1900. We show that the nobility, less than 0.5 per cent of the population, was markedly dominant in 1750: the average noble was 60 times richer than the average person, and the nobles held 29 per cent of all private wealth. 90 per cent of the nobles were richer than the average person. By 1900 the advantage of the nobles’ wealth had declined; the group held only 5 per cent of total private wealth. At the same time, stratification within the nobility had increased dramatically. One group of super-rich Swedish nobles, often large land owners from the high nobility, possessed the biggest fortunes, but a large minority of nobles were no richer than the average Swede.

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