The Industrial Revolution, Political Transition, and the Subsequent Decline in Inequality in 19th-Century Britain

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Abstract

Democratization was a key mediating factor linking Britain's first industrial revolution to subsequent reductions in income inequality. Accelerated economic growth, generating a wider distribution of discretionary resources, created incentives for repeated expansions of the franchise, which then led to a progressive shift in legislation. After the Second and Third Reform Acts, income inequality was reduced by successive acts of legislation which provided free public education; strengthened the legal standing of the trade unions; aided the aged, the sick, and the unemployed without abridging their political rights; and replaced regressive indirect taxes with progressive taxes on income, land, and inherited wealth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-127
Number of pages19
JournalExplorations in Economic History
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 1999

Keywords

  • Franchise
  • Growth
  • Industrial Revolution
  • Inequality
  • Political dynamics

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