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The great escape? The contribution of the empire to Portugal’s economic growth, 1500-1800

  • Reis, Jaime
  • Palma, Nuno
  • Costa, Leonor Freire

Newly assembled macroeconomic statistics for early modern Portugal reveal one of Europe’s most vigorous colonial traders and at the same time one of its least successful growth records. Using an estimated model in the spirit of Allen (2009) we conclude that intercontinental trade had a substantial and increasingly positive impact on economic growth. In the heyday of colonial expansion, eliminating the economic links to empire would have reduced Portugal’s per capita income by roughly a fifth. While the empire helped the domestic economy it was not sufficient to annul the tendency towards decline in relation to Europe’s advanced core which set in from the 17th century onwards. We conclude that the explanation for Portugal’s long-term backwardness must be sought primarily in domestic conditions

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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 wp13-07.

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Date of creation: 31 Oct 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wp13-07
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  1. Timmer,Marcel P. & Inklaar,Robert & O'Mahony,Mary & Ark,Bart van, 2013. "Economic Growth in Europe," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107412446, September.
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  8. De Long, J. Bradford & Shleifer, Andrei, 1993. "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution," Scholarly Articles 3451302, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
  10. Rei, Claudia, 2011. "The organization of Eastern merchant empires," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 116-135, January.
  11. Patrick O'Brien, 1982. "European Economic Development: The Contribution of the Periphery," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 35(1), pages 1-18, 02.
  12. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/684 is not listed on IDEAS
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