Division of inheritance and capital accumulation: case of Bursa from probate registers, 1700-1840
Tığlay, Fatma Pelin (2015) Division of inheritance and capital accumulation: case of Bursa from probate registers, 1700-1840. [Thesis]
In the light of the recent evidence from Thomas Piketty, the importance of intergenerational money transfer for capital accumulation is better highlighted in the last decade. Due to the lack of research, the share of the money received through inheritance remained ambiguous in the Ottoman Empire. To shed light on this matter, this thesis aims at tracking the division of inheritance in Ottoman Bursa for four consecutive periods of 20 years with 20 year gaps in between from 1700 to 1840, based on probate registers. Despite the predefined list of heirs according to Shari’a, the thesis aspires to distinguish theory from practice and observe the heir number and type in reality in the given time frame. In addition to calculating the total heir number for five different wealth quintiles; based on the primary heir list set in Islamic law which is studied under this topic, the data on the total number of heirs with primary and greater claims on estate for each wealth quintile is also analyzed. Contrary to Timur Kuran’s argument about the lack of capital accumulation in the Ottoman Empire, attributed to egalitarian division of inheritance in Shari’a, the findings of this thesis indicate a gradual contraction of heirs between periods and especially among the wealthy quintiles, hinting at more wealth accumulation, especially in later periods. Although intergenerational capital accumulation in other cities should also be studied further, the evidence of this thesis is important for interpreting the practical consequences of Shari’a and depicting wealth accumulation in Bursa.
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