Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Christos Giannikos

Committee Members

Paul Krugman

Branko Milanovic

Thom Thurston

Subject Categories

Economics | Growth and Development | Income Distribution | Macroeconomics | Political Economy


Inequality, Growth, Regional Economic Policy, Macroeconomics


This dissertation consists of three chapters that study inequality and regional economics in a historical and development context.

The first chapter examines regional inequality among Habsburg regions from the 19th century to today’s EU by using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to recreate historical regions in present-day projections. The findings suggests that regional disparities are markedly higher today than in the 19th century, despite rapid convergence in the past two decades. The study thus provides evidence of retrospective determinism in the study of the Habsburg economy and suggests that, although regional EU policy has been successful over the past two decades, further policy measures are needed to make up lost ground. For the 1867-1913 time-frame, the study finds two regional convergence clubs.

The second chapter provides a comprehensive study of the linkages between unification and related policy choices on income inequality by examining the cases of Italy and Germany in the context of nineteenth century unification. To conduct this analysis, the study puts forward - for the first time - estimates of income inequality for pre-unification German states using social tables, compiled using primary data, some of which have thus far been unexplored in economic research. The findings suggest that differences in inequality between regions were more pronounced in Italy than in Germany. In seeking explanations for these trends, the study explores linkages between institutional structures, governance frameworks and inequality, connecting the research on federalism with the literature on inequality extraction.

The third chapter provides new insights into subnational inequality convergence across developing countries, building on the increased availability of Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) data. It finds evidence of regional inequality convergence across countries, but finds heterogenous trends within countries. The study uses convergence club analysis to complement ”traditional” convergence analysis and advances the methodology as a useful tool for policy makers at the regional level. It also explores the role of regional policy making on regional inequality trends, providing some preliminary evidence that the state system matters for inequality convergence, suggesting that unitary states are associated with regional inequality convergence.

The three chapters aim to provide new insights and contribute to the study of inequality by advancing our understanding of the relationship between the distribution of income, regional economic development and state systems.