Wealth and demography in Ottoman probate inventories: a database in very long-term perspective
Canbakal, Hülya and Filiztekin, Alpay (2021) Wealth and demography in Ottoman probate inventories: a database in very long-term perspective. Historical Methods . ISSN 0161-5440 (Print) 1940-1906 (Online) Published Online First http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01615440.2020.1840469
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01615440.2020.1840469
This article introduces a database of Ottoman probates and examines some of the methodological difficulties in very long-term analysis. Wealth statistics, spanning from 1460 to 1920 in the longest subsample, indicate an inverted U-shaped pattern that may signal the limits of extensive growth or “decline” as per the former Decline Paradigm. This pattern does not entirely match recent scholarship on the Ottoman Empire, however. Examining the effect of biases and changes in probate demography on wealth, we explore how real the observed wealth pattern is. We employ descriptive statistics, linear regression and Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition, and find that demographic composition matters but does not alter the shape of the wealth curve. Explanation for the gap between probate findings and current historiography, therefore, must lie elsewhere.
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