US More Unequal Than Ancient Rome

The Forum in Rome.

Wikimedia Photo

Research from Walter Schiedel and Steven Friesen suggests that the Gini coefficient for the ancient Roman Empire was 0.42–0.44, slightly lower than today’s 0.45.

Of course an interesting exercise would be to try to think about this in human welfare terms rather than in monetary terms. The past would arguably have been extremely egalitarian in welfare terms simply because the overall living standards were so low compared to today. No air conditioning, no out-of-season food, no air travel to visit family in a different city, no penicillin if your kid gets sick.