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The "rabassa morta" in Catalan viticulture: the rise and decline of a long term sharecropping contract, 1670s-1920s


  • Simpson, James
  • Carmona, Juan


We examine the working of a sharecropping contract, the "rabassa morta". We argue, in line with much of recent theoretical work, that the contract was originally efficient, because it reduced problems of moral hazard and opportunistic behaviour, and provided sharecroppers with sufficient incentives to respond to market opportunities, for over a couple of centuries. However, from the late nineteenth century, the combination of technical change, rising wages, weak wine prices all increased the incentives for postcontractual opportunistic behaviour on the pan of the sharecropper, leading to conflicts and an undennining of the trust that had been built up over the previous centuries. Therefore, by the early 1920s the contract was often considered synonymous with "exploitation" and "impoverishment", tenns frequently found in the more traditionalliterature on sharecropping.

Suggested Citation

  • Simpson, James & Carmona, Juan, 1998. "The "rabassa morta" in Catalan viticulture: the rise and decline of a long term sharecropping contract, 1670s-1920s," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wh980402, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
  • Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wh980402

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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel A. Ackerberg & Maristella Botticini, 2002. "Endogenous Matching and the Empirical Determinants of Contract Form," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 564-591, June.
    2. Julie Marfany, 2010. "Is it still helpful to talk about proto-industrialization? Some suggestions from a Catalan case study," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(4), pages 942-973, November.
    3. Marc Badia-Miro & Enric Tello, 2013. "An agency-oriented model to explain vine-growing specialization in the province of Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) in the mid-nineteenth century," Working Papers in Economics 290, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
    4. Jordi Planas, 2015. "State intervention in wine markets and collective action in France and Spain during the early twentieth century," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1503, Asociacion Espa–ola de Historia Economica.
    5. Marc Badia-Miró & Enric Tello, 2014. "Vine-growing in Catalonia: the main agricultural change underlying the earliest industrialization in Mediterranean Europe (1720–1939)," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 203-226.
    6. Miley, Thomas Jeffrey & Domènech Feliu, Jordi, 2013. "Structural change, collective action, and social unrest in 1930s Spain," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp13-05, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.

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