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Rural labour markets and rural conflict in Spain before the Civil War (1931-1936)

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  • Jordi Domenech

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Abstract

This paper looks at the causes of rural conflict in 1930s Spain. Rather than stressing bottom-up forces of mobilisation linked to poor harvests and rural unemployment or the inability of the state to enforce reformist legislation, this paper explores the role of state policy in sorting out the acute coordination and collective action problems of mobilising rural labourers. I do so by looking at the effects of intervention on rural labour markets in dry-farming areas of Spain (parts of Castile and of Andalusia). Given the difficulties of constructing a conclusive test of my hypothesis, I follow three indirect testing strategies. Firstly, I look at the qualitative evidence on the functioning of labour markets in dry-farming areas of Spain. Secondly, because my argument implies the existence of severe restrictions to the labour supply of rural labourers during the harvest in the early 1930s, I study the evolution of harvest-to-winter wage ratios before and after the passing of legislation. Thirdly, in order to show that alternative hypotheses to explain rural conflict are not consistent with the historical record, I study the diffusion of union offices and general strikes in the early 1930s in several dry-farming provinces of Spain.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones in its series Working Papers in Economic History with number wp12-01.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wp12-01

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Keywords: Agricultural labour markets; collective action; conflict; unions; wage differentials; migration; Spain;

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  1. Michael D. Bordo & Claudia Goldin & Eugene N. White, 1998. "The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bord98-1.
  2. Simpson,James, 2003. "Spanish Agriculture," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521525169.
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Cited by:
  1. Jordi Domènech Feliu, 2013. "Land tenure inequality, harvests, and rural conflict ; evidence from Southern Spain in the 1930s," Working Papers in Economic History, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones wp13-06, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones.

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