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

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Álvarez Nogal, Carlos & Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2007. "Searching for the roots of retardation : Spain in European perspective, 1500-1850," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp07-06, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
  • Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wp07-06
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2005. "Una estimación del crecimiento económico en la Edad Moderna," Investigaciones de Historia Económica - Economic History Research (IHE-EHR), Journal of the Spanish Economic History Association, Asociación Española de Historia Económica, vol. 2, pages 9-38.
    7. 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(2), pages 175-197, August.
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    10. Amarilla, Jose A. Sebastian, 1990. "La renta de la tierra en Leon durante la Edad Moderna. Primeros resultados y algunas reflexiones a partir de fuentes monasticas," Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 53-80, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joerg Baten & Jan Zanden, 2008. "Book production and the onset of modern economic growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 217-235, September.

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