Branko Milanovic on

July 30, 2015

How to Compare Fortunes Across, 'Everyday Money,' 7.29.15

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How to Compare Fortunes Across History, 'Everyday Money,' 7.29.15
Branko Milanovic, a Graduate Center, CUNY economics professor specializing in inequality, estimates that pre-modern societies dating from the Roman Empire to British India in 1947, were able to extract nearly 76% of the maximum amount of wealth that could be taken before their people would slip below subsistence levels. Modern nations, measured from 1998 through 2002, extracted a comparatively small 43% of that limit. For this reason, the most accurate list of the richest people to ever live (based on economic power) would likely include almost exclusively pre-modern rulers.