Friday, March 02, 2007

Mr. Darcy's wealth

Economist Brad DeLong reprints in his blog a Golden Oldie from his archives and you readers might find it worth a look.

In Pride and Prejudice Mrs. Bennett is very impressed by Mr. Darcy and his "10,000 a year," meaning 10,000 pounds of disposable income. Brad asked his readers how much this might be worth in 2003. A very interesting discussion of the value of money and historical comparisons resulted.

The discussion took place rather to the side of one important point. Would the characters in P&P have taken this number seriously just because the overexcited Mrs. Bennett offered it? As one commenter said early on, no mere "gentleman" would have had that kind of income. A duke, maybe, but Mr. Darcy was not even the son of a peer.

Brad DeLong's reflections on the original discussion are here.

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