How Taming Cows and Horses Sparked Inequality Across the Ancient World

11/15/2017 - Distinguished Professor of Economics Peter Lindert at Science.

Today, 2% of the world’s people own more than half its wealth. This rise of the superrich has economists, politicians, and citizens alike wondering how much inequality societies can—or should—accept. But economic inequality has deep roots. A study published this week in Natureconcludes that its ancient hotbed was the Old World: Societies there tended to be less equal than those in the New World, likely because of the use of draft animals.

Economist Peter Lindert of the University of California, Davis, calls the choice of house size as a wealth proxy “wise,” but archaeologist Melissa Vogel of Clemson University in South Carolina cautions that factors such as the quality of construction materials could complicate the analyses. “It’s great to try to do these larger comparisons,” she says. “But there are some real limitations.”

Read the full story at Science.