Income concentration in British India, 1885–1946

Facundo Alvaredo, Augustin Bergeron, Guilhem Cassan

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Abstract

We use a novel income tax data set to present evidence on the evolution of income concentration in the last 60 years of colonial rule in India. These data allow us to study the evolution of income concentration at the country level as well as the location of top income earners across provinces. We identify three key facts: (1) the evolution of income concentration in British India was nonlinear, following a U-shape, (2) the majority of top income earners were non-Europeans, and (3) the geographical location of top income earners changed over time with the province of Bombay gaining in importance in the early XXth century. We provide an interpretation of these results in the light of the economic and political changes in British India over the period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-469
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Development Economics
Volume127
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

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Keywords

  • Colonization
  • India
  • Inequality
  • Top incomes

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