July 28, 2023
Written by WID.world

Income inequality in the Duchy of Warsaw (1810/11)

The Duchy of Warsaw was a Polish state established by Napoleon Bonaparte, which existed in the years 1807-1815. Although the Duchy of Warsaw existed only for a short time, it is sometimes seen by Polish historians as the first modern Polish state. It had an area of around 155,000 square kilometers and a population of approximately 4,300,000 residents.

To finance the development of military fortifications the Duchy of Warsaw introduced an occupation-based income tax, which may be considered to be one of the first quasi-universal income taxes in the history of Poland. Based on their occupations and wealth, taxpayers were classified into ten income classes with different amounts of tax to be paid. Occupation-based income tax was implemented in the Napoleonic period also in the Kingdom of Naples, and a similar tax was also collected in Prussia.

This paper estimates income inequality in the Department of Kalisz, and on the national Duchy level, and discusses the level of economic development of the Duchy in the context of this tax data. It shows that income inequality in the Duchy was at a moderate level, although in the biggest cities it was relatively high.



  • Marcin Wroński



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