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Hunger in hell’s kitchen : family living conditions during Spanish industrialization : the Bilbao estuary, 1914-1935


  • Rojo Cagigal, Juan Carlos
  • Houpt, Stefan


Did the late industrialization in Europe’s periphery improve life for its urban class? This paper examines family living conditions in northern Spain during late industrialization in the interwar period. We concentrate on the Basque region, one of the emerging industrial areas from the 1870s on. Historiography holds that in the medium-term urban development and industrialization increased real wages and overall standards of living. We contrast this empirically by examining the effects of income shocks on families using high frequency data from 1914 until 1936. These contrasts introduce nutritional adequacy of family diets as an additional way of measuring living conditions. Our results indicate that real income did not improve and that demographic and social deprivation variables were highly responsive to short term economic shocks. This response points to the fragility of urban breadwinner families even during later phases of industrialization; the urban penalty was by far not being compensated by the higher nominal wages received

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  • Rojo Cagigal, Juan Carlos & Houpt, Stefan, 2011. "Hunger in hell’s kitchen : family living conditions during Spanish industrialization : the Bilbao estuary, 1914-1935," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp11-04, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
  • Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wp11-04

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Prados De La Escosura, Leandro, 2008. "Inequality, poverty and the Kuznets curve in Spain, 1850–2000," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 287-324, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Oliver Houpt & Juan Carlos Rojo Cagigal, 2014. "Relative deprivation and labour conflict during Spain’s industrialization: the Bilbao estuary, 1914–1936," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 8(3), pages 335-369, September.

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    Standards of living;

    JEL classification:

    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N93 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: Pre-1913


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