Mercantilist Inequality: Wealth and Poverty in Stockholm 1650–1750

Erik Bengtsson, Mats Olsson, Patrick Svensson

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


This paper describes and analyzessocial structure, poverty, wealth and economic inequality in Stockholm from 1650 to 1750. We begin by establishing the social structure, using census data and other sources. To study wealth and poverty, the main sources are a complete record of the wealthtax of 1715, comprising 17782 taxpayers, and probate inventory samples from 1650, 1700 and 1750, in all 1125 inventories. These provide detailed and sometimes surprising insights into the living standards of both the poor and rich. Stockholm in this period was a starkly unequal city, with the top decile of wealth holders owning about 90 per cent of total wealth. We relate this inequality to Mercantilist policies. The city was run as an oligarchy and the oligarchical political institutions engendered policies rigged for inequality. The case of Stockholm thus shows the need for the historical inequality literature to consider class and power relations to understand the determinants of inequality.
TidskriftEconomic History Review
Tidigt onlinedatum2021 maj 18
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2021 maj 18

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Ekonomisk historia


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