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Growth recurring in preindustrial Spain?

Author

Listed:
  • Leandro Prados de la Escosura

    (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Getafe)

  • Carlos Álvarez-Nogal

    (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Getafe)

  • Carlos Santiago-Caballero

    (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Getafe)

Abstract

Research in economic history has challenged a strict Malthusian depiction of preindustrial European economies, highlighting ‘efflorescences’, ‘Smithian’ and ‘growth recurring’ episodes. Do these defining concepts apply to preindustrial Spain? In this paper, we carry out new yearly estimates of output and population for over half-a millennium. We find that our estimates of agricultural output on the basis of tithes largely confirm those obtained using a demand function approach supporting its use in the absence of direct information. We show that, although levels of output per head in the early nineteenth century were not much different from those in the eve of the Black Death, preindustrial Spain was far from stagnant. Phases of simultaneous per capita output and population expansion and shrinkage alternated, lending support to the recurring growth and frontier economy hypotheses. A long phase of sustained growth and lower inequality collapsed in the 1570s and gave way to another one of sluggish growth and higher inequality. As an alternative to a Malthusian interpretation, we hypothesise that, in preindustrial Spain, growth and decline are largely explained by individual and collective economic decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Leandro Prados de la Escosura & Carlos Álvarez-Nogal & Carlos Santiago-Caballero, 2022. "Growth recurring in preindustrial Spain?," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 16(2), pages 215-241, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:cliomt:v:16:y:2022:i:2:d:10.1007_s11698-021-00232-7
    DOI: 10.1007/s11698-021-00232-7
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Preindustrial Spain; Frontier economy; Black Death; Malthusian; Growth recurring;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E10 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - General
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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