Housing Inequality in Premodern Cities

Author(s): Timothy Dennehy; Jacqueline Fox; Michael Smith

Year: 2016


We calculate Gini indices for house size in two samples of premodern cities. The first sample consists of several cities included in the transdisciplinary comparative project on spatial inequality called “Service Access in Premodern Cities.” That project examined the relationship between inequality and a set of systematically coded contextual variables – such as economic development and governance mode – in a sample of ancient and historical cities. The current study uses only those cities that have household-level data allowing calculation of a Gini index for house size. Our second sample consists of a number of additional early cities that also provide comprehensive household level data, but which were not included in the earlier study. Taken together, our analyses of these samples reveal considerable variation in the degree of wealth inequality in premodern cities, and allow us to suggest some of the contextual factors associated with divergent levels of inequality. Finally, we experiment with using the Gini index in a novel way to characterize inequality in spatial access to service facilities.

Cite this Record

Housing Inequality in Premodern Cities. Timothy Dennehy, Jacqueline Fox, Michael Smith. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403396)