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Searching for the roots of retardation : Spain in European perspective, 1500-1850

  • Prados de la Escosura, Leandro
  • Álvarez Nogal, Carlos

This paper investigates when did retardation begin in Spain and examines the evidence on economic performance over three centuries. In contrast to earlier estimates that focus almost exclusively on Castilian agriculture we look at trends in urbanization as a measure of economic activity outside agriculture and construct new measures of agricultural and total output at regional and national levels. We find distinctive long-run behaviour across Spanish regions that reject the identification between Castile and Spain. We also provide new output estimates for six Western European countries that allow placing Spanish performance in comparative perspective. Two main findings are highlighted. At the time of her imperial expansion Spain appears to have a relatively affluent nation and, by the late sixteenth century, her income per head was only below the Low Countries’ and Italy’s. The roots of Spanish retardation lie in the seventeenth century and deepened during the early nineteenth century.

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Paper provided by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola in its series IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH with number wp07-06.

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Date of creation: Mar 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wp07-06
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  1. van Zanden, Jan L., 1999. "Wages and the standard of living in Europe, 1500 1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 175-197, August.
  2. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2000. "International Comparisons of Real Product, 1820-1990: An Alternative Data Set," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-41, January.
  3. Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2005. "Una estimación del crecimiento económico en la Edad Moderna," Investigaciones de Historia Económica (IHE) Journal of the Spanish Economic History Association, Asociacion Espa–ola de Historia Economica, vol. 2, pages 9-38.
  4. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro & Rosés, Joan R., 2009. "The Sources of Long-Run Growth in Spain, 1850-2000," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(04), pages 1063-1091, December.
  5. Prados de la Escosura Leandro, 2003. "El progreso económico de España (1850-2000)," Books, Fundacion BBVA / BBVA Foundation, edition 1, number 201136.
  6. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2006. "Growth and structural change in Spain, 1850-2000," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp06-05, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
  7. Palencia, Fernando Carlos Ramos, 2001. "Pautas de consumo familiar en la Castilla preindustrial: Palencia, 1750–1850," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(S1), pages 37-59, March.
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