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Literacy in Spain in the 19th century: An econometric analysis


  • Rafael Barquín

    () (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Spain)

  • Pedro Pérez

    (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Spain)

  • Basilio Sanz

    (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Spain)


The aim of this paper is to identify variables that could explain Spanish urban literacy growth between 1860 and 1910. We have made use of census data and other public sources. One of the main obstacles is to find appropriate city definition criteria. We have addressed this issue by resorting to the relevant bibliography. A priori, expected key variables are the Church influence, whether or not the city is a provincial capital, the access to the railway system, the mining and industrial activity and, above all, the literacy programs undertaken by Liberal governments. Results of several econometric models - panel data based considering cross and time fixed effects - show firstly, that local idiosyncratic factors were sizeable. Secondly, in the literacy process the educational offer was more decisive than the personal economic incentives, especially among girls. And finally, that Church influence largely explains the literacy levels at the middle of 19th century, as well as its decline in the second half of that century.

Suggested Citation

  • Rafael Barquín & Pedro Pérez & Basilio Sanz, 2016. "Literacy in Spain in the 19th century: An econometric analysis," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1615, Asociación Española de Historia Económica.
  • Handle: RePEc:ahe:dtaehe:1615

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barquín, Rafael & Pérez, Pedro & Sanz, Basilio, 2012. "La influencia del ferrocarril en el desarrollo urbano español (1860-1910)," Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(3), pages 391-416, December.
    2. Roses, Joan R., 2015. "Spanish land reform in the 1930s: economic necessity or political opportunism?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 64498, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Robert J. Barro, 2001. "Human Capital and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 12-17, May.
    4. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588, August.
    5. Julio Martinez-Galarraga & Francisco Beltrán Tapia, 2015. "Land Access Inequality and Education in Pre-Industrial Spain," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _137, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    6. Silvestre, Javier, 2005. "Internal migrations in Spain, 1877–1930," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 233-265, August.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Una mirada al fracaso histórico de la educación
      by Francisco Beltrán Tapia in Nada Es Gratis on 2017-07-27 09:00:20

    More about this item


    Literacy; Schooling; Church; Panel Data Models;

    JEL classification:

    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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