A methodological approach to estimating the money demand in pre-industrial economies: probate inventories and Spain in the 18th century
The study of monetary phenomena and the understanding of price determination in Modern Europe are too often limited by the scarcity of good-quality data sets on the evolution across time of variables like money holdings, income, or wealth. In this paper we show that the information contained in probate inventories can be extremely useful to circumvent that problem. In particular, combining a data set of 114 inventories from Palencia (North of Spain) between 1750 and 1770 with census information (Catastro de Ensenada) we make a cross-section estimation of a money demand which is the first one ever produced for any period before the 19th century. The results provide meaningful insights about the relation between money demand and wealth, urbanization and structural change in a pre-industrial economy and highlight the potential of probate inventories to improve our knowledge of the monetary history of Modern Europe.
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