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The Wealth and Poverty of RegionsWhy Cities Matter$
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Mario Polese

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226673158

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226673172.001.0001

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The Regional Origins of Wealth: Where It All Began

The Regional Origins of Wealth: Where It All Began

(p.67) 3 The Regional Origins of Wealth: Where It All Began
The Wealth and Poverty of Regions

Mario Polèse

University of Chicago Press

This chapter provides information about the regional origins of wealth and prosperity in the preindustrial period. Differences in place prosperity existed in all great preindustrial civilizations. Some towns were larger and richer than others. Peasants, tradesmen, and aristocrats were richer in some areas than in others. Regional income disparities—between regions of the same nation—would also have seemed bizarre to most observers in preindustrial times. The modern nation state with its well-defined borders and shared sense of national destiny is recent invention. Historical evidence on development differences within nations in preindustrial times is understandably sparse. The little evidence that exists suggests that regional welfare differences were, as a rule, less acute than those found in many nations today. Income differences between social classes—between local aristocrats and peasants—were huge, of course; but those privileged few were in most places but a fraction of the total population, with the result that average incomes per person did not vary greatly between regions.

Keywords:   regional origins, prosperity, national destiny, social classes, preindustrial civilizations, regional income disparity

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