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Expropriation of church wealth and political conflict in 19th century Colombia


  • Uribe-Castro, Mateo


The redefinition of Catholic Church property rights was common in Europe and the Americas during late eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries. Given the Church’s power and the level of political violence after independence, these reforms were influential in Latin America. This paper focuses on Colombia after 1850 and measures the impact of the expropriation of Church’s assets on political violence. With yearly data on the number of battles per municipality, archival information on the reform, and difference-in-differences, the paper documents a reduction of political violence in places where the Church’s assets were expropriated. The paper contests the traditional idea of the expropriation of Church’s real estate as a source of political violence. It highlights changes in political competition after the alliance between Conservative factions and the Church was weakened. Specifically, it shows the reduction in political violence was concentrated in municipalities with high political competition and where the Conservative Party was relatively weak.

Suggested Citation

  • Uribe-Castro, Mateo, 2019. "Expropriation of church wealth and political conflict in 19th century Colombia," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 1-1.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:73:y:2019:i:c:4
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2019.03.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Becker, Sascha O. & Rubin, Jared & Woessmann, Ludger, 2020. "Religion in Economic History : A Survey," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1273, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    2. Juan David Torres, 2022. "Shaping inequality? Property rights, landed elites and public lands in Colombia," Documentos CEDE 20514, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía, CEDE.
    3. Chenxi Li & Zenglei Xi, 2019. "Social Stability Risk Assessment of Land Expropriation: Lessons from the Chinese Case," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 16(20), pages 1-20, October.

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    More about this item


    Political violence; Property rights; Catholic Church; Elites; Latin America;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N46 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements


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