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Land tenure inequality, harvests, and rural conflict ; evidence from Southern Spain in the 1930s

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  • Domènech Feliu, Jordi

Abstract

This paper analyses rural conflict in one of the most volatile areas of interwar Europe, the latifundia regions of the South of Spain. The historical and economics literature argues that rural conflict was a bottom-up, spontaneous response of landless peasants to unemployment, bad harvests, land ownership inequality, changes in property rights, and the lack of enforcement of pro-worker legislation. A second generation of historical studies has focused on democratization and concomitant changes in collective bargaining and labor market institutions. Was conflict caused by structural factors like poverty, inequality or unemployment or was conflict an endogenous response to political change? This paper analyzes the pattern of conflict in in three Andalusian provinces (Córdoba, Jaén and Seville) in the early 1930s to argue that the timing and geographical distribution of conflict is consistent with a wave of mobilization linked to greater political opportunities favored by lower repression, pro-worker institutional change, and labor market intervention. Time-series and cross-sectional variation in levels of rural conflict suggest conflict was not a spontaneous response to dismal living standards and inequality. Rather, it emerged in large, fast growing towns of Andalusia and was mediated by the strategic interaction of authorities and experienced rural unions. The instances of rural conflict analyzed here suggest it is very difficult for new democratic governments in agrarian societies to stave rural conflict off with labor-friendly intervention. It is often argued that conflict precedes political and institutional change, but it is shown here that conflict can emerge abruptly as a response to those changes.

Suggested Citation

  • Domènech Feliu, Jordi, 2013. "Land tenure inequality, harvests, and rural conflict ; evidence from Southern Spain in the 1930s," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp13-06, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
  • Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wp13-06
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    File URL: https://e-archivo.uc3m.es/bitstream/handle/10016/17520/wh1306.pdf?sequence=1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Domènech Feliu, Jordi, 2012. "Rural labour markets and rural conflict in Spain before the Civil War (1931-1936)," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp12-01, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    2. Eli Berman & Michael Callen & Joseph H. Felter & Jacob N. Shapiro, 2011. "Do Working Men Rebel? Insurgency and Unemployment in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 55(4), pages 496-528, August.
    3. Simpson,James, 2003. "Spanish Agriculture," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521525169.
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    5. Quy-Toan Do & Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "Geography, poverty and conflict in Nepal," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 47(6), pages 735-748, November.
    6. Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath & Ernest Sergenti, 2004. "Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 725-753, August.
    7. Arulampalam, Wiji, 1999. " Practitioners' Corner: A Note on Estimated Coefficients in Random Effects Probit Models," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 61(4), pages 597-602, November.
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    10. Andre, Catherine & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 1998. "Land relations under unbearable stress: Rwanda caught in the Malthusian trap," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 1-47, January.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • J43 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Agricultural Labor Markets
    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N54 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: 1913-

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