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Spanish Land Reform in the 1930s: Economic Necessity or Political Opportunism?

Author

Listed:
  • Juan Carmona

    () (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)

  • Joan R. Rosés

    () (London School of Economics)

  • James Simpson

    () (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)

Abstract

Spanish land reform, involving the break-up of the large southern estates, was a central issue during the first decades of the twentieth century. This paper uses new provincial data on landless workers, land prices and agrarian wages to consider if government intervention was needed because of the failure of the free action of markets to redistribute land. Our evidence shows that the relative number of landless workers decreased significantly from 1860 to 1930 before the approval of the 1932 Land Reform. This was due to two interrelated market forces: the falling ratio between land prices and rural wages, which made land cheaper for landless workers to rent and buy land plots, and structural change that drained rural population from the countryside. Given that rural markets did not restrict access to land, the government-initiated land redistribution had no clear-cut economic justification.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan Carmona & Joan R. Rosés & James Simpson, 2015. "Spanish Land Reform in the 1930s: Economic Necessity or Political Opportunism?," Working Papers 0090, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  • Handle: RePEc:hes:wpaper:0090
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro & Rosés, Joan R., 2010. "Human capital and economic growth in Spain, 1850-2000," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 520-532, October.
    2. 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.
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    12. Simpson,James, 2003. "Spanish Agriculture," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521525169, April.
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    15. Juan Carmona & James Simpson, 2014. "Los contratos de cesión de tierra en Extremadura en el primer tercio del siglo XX," Historia Agraria. Revista de Agricultura e Historia Rural, Sociedad Española de Historia Agraria, issue 63, pages 183-213, august.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rafael Barquín & Pedro Pérez & Basilio Sanz, 2016. "Literacy in Spain in the 19th century: An econometric analysis," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1615, Asociacion Espa–ola de Historia Economica.
    2. repec:eee:exehis:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:82-103 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Simpson, James, 2017. "The nature and response to the 1930s agrarian crisis : Spain in a European perspective," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH 25503, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    land markets; structural change; land prices; landless peasants;

    JEL classification:

    • N54 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment

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