Chapter

Colonial Sisters and their Wealth: The Wealth Holdings of Women in South Australia, 1875–1915

Martin Shanahan

in Men, Women, and Money

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199593767
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728815 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199593767.003.0005
Colonial Sisters and their Wealth: The Wealth Holdings of Women in South Australia, 1875–1915

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This chapter examines patterns of wealth-holding in South Australia between 1875 and 1915, focusing on gender differences in the composition and size of estates. Legal changes relating to women's property rights were important in understanding gendered differences in wealth ownership. Drawing on evidence based on a large sample of probated estates, it compares the composition of wealth owned by men and women from different economic strata. The proportion of female estates rose over the period, suggesting that more women were able to amass sufficient wealth to warrant the need for probate. This trend was partly explained by the growing proportion of estates that belonged to married women. In an economy dominated by agriculture, real estate was the main type of asset owned both by men and women. International comparisons of men's and women's wealth suggest that it was more equally distributed in South Australia relative to other parts of the British empire.

Keywords: Married Women's Property Acts; gender; composition of wealth; Australia; real estate; death duties; probate; distribution of wealth-holding; nineteenth century

Chapter.  10672 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Business History

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