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RISK, ASSET MARKETS, <= /b>AND INEQUALITY: EVIDENCE FROM
MEDIEVAL ENGLAND <=
Cliff T. Bekar
Lewis & Clark College
Clyde G. Reed
Simon Fraser University
Between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries English peasants faced large income shocks relative to mean incomes. Innovations in property rights over land induced peasants to respond by trading small parc= els of land as part of their risk coping strategy. The same period witnessed a dramatic increase in inequality in the distribution of peasant landholdings= . We argue that these events are related. When agents are able to trade their pr= oductive assets to manage risk, wealth dynamics become unstable and generate increas= ing inequality over time. We analyze the effects of these dynamics in the conte= xt of medieval English land markets and peasant landholdings.