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Social mobility in nineteenth century Spain : Valencia, 1841-1870


  • Santiago Caballero, Carlos


The central decades of the nineteenth century were a key period for the economic development of Spain. An increasing industrial sector, unprecedented economic growth, rising domestic and international economic integration, the creation of modern communication and transport networks and radical institutional reforms. However, our knowledge of the economic history of those key years is far from been perfect. This paper attempts to shed some light on this fundamental period of the economic history of Spain by looking at an almost unexplored field in premodern Spain, the changes in social mobility using an extensive sample of marriage records from the region of Valencia, one of the main economies of the country. During the period under analysis, Valencia followed a particular path of growth based on agrarian capitalism focused on international markets. Our results suggest that social mobility improved between 1840 and 1850 but that the situation quickly reversed during the following decades. The opportunities offered to individuals raised by poorer families in agriculture and manufacturing disappeared, and by 1870, Valencia was a much less mobile society. The analysis of the determinants of upward mobility suggests that in a society where education was directly correlated with the income of the household, the status of the family was a key factor improving the mobility of the upper social classes and limiting that of the lower. Inequality also played a role and more equal locations improved the chances of upward mobility, supporting the idea of the Great Gatsby curve. By 1870 Valencia had become a polarised society, where the benefits of the rising domestic integration and globalisation were enjoyed by a small elite, while the lowest part of the income distribution suffered increasing pauperisation.

Suggested Citation

  • Santiago Caballero, Carlos, 2018. "Social mobility in nineteenth century Spain : Valencia, 1841-1870," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH 27620, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
  • Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:27620

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jo Blanden & Paul Gregg & Lindsey Macmillan, 2007. "Accounting for Intergenerational Income Persistence: Noncognitive Skills, Ability and Education," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(519), pages 43-60, March.
    2. Milanovic, Branko & Lindert, Peter & Williamson, Jeffrey, 2007. "Measuring Ancient Inequality," MPRA Paper 5388, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Dan Andrews & Andrew Leigh, 2009. "More inequality, less social mobility," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(15), pages 1489-1492.
    4. Jason Long & Joseph Ferrie, 2013. "Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in Great Britain and the United States since 1850," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1109-1137, June.
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    6. Leandro Prados de la Escosura & Carlos Santiago-Caballero, 2018. "The Napoleonic Wars: A Watershed in Spanish History?," Working Papers 0130, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    7. Nina Boberg-Fazlic & Paul Sharp, 2013. "North and South: Social Mobility and Welfare Spending in Preindustrial England," Working Papers 0037, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    8. Jason Long & Joseph Ferrie, 2013. "Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in Great Britain and the United States since 1850: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 2041-2049, August.
    9. Carri n, Jos M. Mart nez & Castej n, Juan J. P rez, 1998. "Height and standards of living during the industrialisation of Spain: The case of Elche," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(02), pages 201-230, August.
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    More about this item


    social mobility;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N93 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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