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Islam and Human Capital in Historical Spain

Author

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  • Cinnirella, Francesco
  • Naghavi, Alireza
  • Prarolo, Giovanni

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of Muslim rule on human capital development. Using a unique novel dataset containing yearly data on Muslim presence in the period 711-1492 and literacy rate in 1900 for about 7500 municipalities in Spain, we estimate the local impact of the length of Muslim rule in the medieval period on literacy rate. Our findings reveal an extremely robust negative relationship between length of Muslim rule and levels of human capital. This result is robust to the inclusion of other possible confounding factors such as the Reconquista and the Inquisition. We argue that the characteristics of Islamic law discouraged the formation of a strong merchant class and subsequently impeded the development of forms of local self-government. This translated into lower levels of human capital for regions longer under Muslim rule. Indeed, panel estimates on a sample of cities provide evidence that locations under Muslim domination missed out on the critical junctures of institutional changes which led to a stagnation in the accumulation of human capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Cinnirella, Francesco & Naghavi, Alireza & Prarolo, Giovanni, 2020. "Islam and Human Capital in Historical Spain," CEPR Discussion Papers 14561, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:14561
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    Cited by:

    1. Sascha O. BECKER & Francesco CINNIRELLA, 2020. "Prussia Disaggregated: The Demography of its Universe of Localities in 1871," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 86(3), pages 259-290, September.
    2. Francisco J. Beltrán Tapia & Alfonso Díez-Minguela & Julio Martinez-Galarraga & Daniel A. Tirado-Fabregat, 2020. "Lordships, state capacity and beyond: literacy rates in mid-nineteenth-century Valencia," Working Papers 0196, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    education; Literacy; Merchant class; Muslim rule; Self-government; Spain;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • 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
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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