Erik Bengtsson


NEW ARTICLE. With Engelbert Stockhammer: "Wages, Income Distribution and Economic Growth: Long-Run Perspectives in Scandinavia, 1900–2010", Review of Political Economy, published online 13 January 2021. Open access, read here. (January 2021)

NEW BOOK CHAPTER. "The Swedish Labour Market, c. 1870-1914: A Labour Market Regime without Repression?". Published in Matteo Millan and Alessandro Saluppo (eds.) In Defence of Freedom: Corporate Policing, Yellow Unionism, and Strikebreaking, 1890-1930, published by Routledge. The book is open access so all chapters including mine are freely available, here. (December 2020)

NEW BOOK CHAPTER. "Ekonomisk ojämlikhet". Book chapter with Daniel Waldenström, in the book Vad är ekonomisk historia?, edited by Lena Andersson-Skog, Oskar Broberg, Rodney Edvinsson, Kerstin Enflo and Kristina Lilja and published by Studentlitteratur, October 2020. See publisher site about the book here.



Hello, welcome to my web site.

My name is Erik Bengtsson. I am an economic historian, working at Lund University. (work website here). My job title is senior lecturer (universitetslektor) and my degree is docent. I am also affiliated with the Economic History Unit at the University of Gothenburg.

My research interests are especially in two broad fields. One is historical living standards, material culture, wealth and inequality, especially in Europe since the seventeenth century. I have done a lot of research with probate inventories (Swedish and Finnish), and also some with wealth tax data, income tax data, wages, and historical national accounts, looking at the capital-labour division of income. The second field is historical political economy, including political history, focusing on the period c. 1790-1950. I am especially interested in social relations as mediated by politics, the distribution of power in society, and democratization and pre-democratic political systems. The two fields also inter-relate, of course, and at the moment I am for example working on trying to understand the implications of the Mexican Revolution for economic inequality, as well as the connections between democratization and socio-economic inequality in Sweden.

As of winter-spring 2021, I do research in three projects.

  • From 2019 to 2022 I work in the project The Swedish transition to equality: income inequality with new micro data, 1862–1970, financed by grants from Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelser and the Swedish Research Council (grant info). I am the project leader and the two other senior participants are Jakob Molinder (Uppsala) and Svante Prado (Gothenburg). For the project aims see here. In short, we produce a large new individual-level dataset of Swedish incomes for every tenth year 1860-1970, and analyze the development of Swedish incomes and their distribution.

  • 2020 to 2025 I work within a large research program led by Jenny Andersson of Uppsala University and financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, "Neoliberalism in the Nordics". Within this program I will work on macroeconomic regulation, wage formation, economic policy and economic inequality since roughly the 1970s, in the Nordic countries. Within this project, I am now working on a paper on the declining salience of the wage bargaining round in Swedish society since the 1960s.

  • From 2020 to 2023 Marcus Falk, Mats Olsson and I work on a project on living standards and material culture in Sweden c. 1680-1860. This project is funded by a grant from Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelser.

I have just written a book on the history and development of economic, social and political inequality in Sweden since the eighteenth century: Världens jämlikaste land? The book summarizes and synthesizes a lot of what I've been working on for the last few years, on wealth inequality, wages and incomes, as well as political history. The core argument has also been presented in a paper published in 2019 in Past & Present, available here.

In December 2020 professor Mats Olsson and I ended a project on agrarian politics in Sweden c. 1770-1950 that we had been working on since 2017. For more info about the project and its outputs see here.

I teach introductory economic history, global and Swedish, and a course called "The rise and fall of the Swedish model". From spring semester 2021 I give a tutorial for masters' students, on historical economic inequality. From autumn semester 2021 I teach also in the department's masters level course on research design.

I am the main supervisor for one doctoral student in Economic History, Marcus Falk, and the secondary supervisor for three doctoral students in the department: Fredrik Kopsch, Valeria Lukkari, and Johanne Arnfred. Marcus is working on material culture and living standards in Sweden c. 1680-1860, Fredrik on the housing market and rental regulations, Valeria on economic inequality in twentieth century Kenya, and Johanne on artisans in nineteenth century Sweden. I am also the secondary supervisor for a doctoral student in History, Markus Hansen. Markus is working on the transition to agrarian capitalism in eighteenth century Denmark.

I got my PhD in Economic History in Gothenburg in 2013 and moved to Lund as a postdoc in 2015. I've been a visiting scholar at UCLA, Kingston University, and the Paris School of Economics.

Jag är sedan november 2020 invald som arbetande ledamot i Vetenskapssocieteten i Lund.

I have a Swedish-language blog, Bengtzzon, and I am on Twitter as @bengtssonz.

In my spare time I watch sports on TV, play football and tennis, listen to music, go cycling, and drink a glass of wine sometimes.

Min bok Världens jämlikaste land kom 7 september 2020 på Arkiv förlag. Den kan beställas t.ex. här.

Göran Greider säger i Göteborgs-Posten att "Många skulle behöva läsa denna bok."

professor Kjell Östberg säger i Internationalen att "Författaren målar med breda penseldrag, skriver ledigt, exemplifierar med många åskådliga exempel från andra forskare och kryddar framställningen med många välfunna citat från skönlitteraturen. Samtidigt är den djupt förankrad i vetenskaplig teori och empiri."

Jan Guillou menar i Aftonbladet att boken är "utmärkt läsning".

professor Stefan Svallfors skriver i Sociologisk Forskning att "Det är en mycket läsvärd bok: inte bara baserad på omsorgsfullt framtagen empiri utan dessutom flyhänt skriven och djupt engagerande" och refererar till det empiriska arbetet om ekonomisk ojämlikhet historiskt som "ett vetenskapligt pionjärarbete av högsta rang".

professor Anders Björklund skriver i Ekonomisk Debatt att boken är "en guldgruva för den som är intresserad av jämlikhetens förutsättningar i Sverige under en mycket lång period."