“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer”*…
The richest families in Florence, Italy have had it good for a while—600 years to be precise.
That’s according to a recent study by two Italian economists, Guglielmo Barone and Sauro Mocetti, who after analyzing compared Florentine taxpayers way back in 1427 to those in 2011. Comparing the family wealth to those with the same surname today, they suggest the richest families in Florence 600 years ago remain the same now.
“The top earners among the current taxpayers were found to have already been at the top of the socioeconomic ladder six centuries ago,” Barone and Mocetti note on VoxEU. The study was able to exploit a unique data set—taxpayers data in 1427 was digitized and made available online—to show long-term trends of economic mobility…
More on the research and it’s import at “The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still the richest families in Florence.” More on the underlying mechanisms of capital accumulation, the persistence of wealth and income, and their polarization here.
* widely-used aphorism, probably dating back to the Bible verse, “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath” (Matthew 13:12, King James edition); it’s use was reinvigorated by the popular 1921 song “Ain’t We Got Fun.”
As we dream the American dream, we might spare a rugged thought for Louis Dearborn L’Amour; he died on this date in 1988. While L’Amour wrote mysteries, science fiction, historical fiction, and non-fiction, he is surely best remembered as the author of westerns (or as he preferred, “frontier stories”) like Hondo and Sackett. At the time of his death he was one of the world’s most popular writers; dozens of his stories had been made into films, and 105 of his works were in print (89 novels, 14 short-story collections, and two full-length works of nonfiction); as of 2010, over 320 million copies of his work had been sold.
L’Amour was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery near Los Angeles. His grave is marked in a way that acknowledges that death was able to contain him in a way that he successfully resisted throughout his life: while his body is underground, his site is fenced in.