The Economic History Review

Measuring the national wealth in seventeenth‐century England

Volume 57 Issue 4
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Pages: 607-635Authors: PAUL SLACK
Published online: November 22, 2005DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2004.00290.x

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This article discusses William Petty’s 1665 estimate of the wealth of England and Wales–the first set of national accounts–and compares it with Gregory King’s (1696), which is shown to be heavily influenced by it. There are conclusions about the methodology of the first political arithmeticians, the kinds of national resources which could be measured for the first time in the seventeenth century, and the lacunae which made it likely that Petty and King underestimated per caput and aggregate incomes. An appendix prints a contemporary analysis of hearth tax returns for every county.