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Class, education and social mobility: Madrid, 1880-1905


  • Francisco J. Beltrán Tapia

    (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

  • Santiago de Miguel Salanova

    (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)


Relying on an extremely rich data set of individuals living in Madrid in 1880 and 1905, this article explores the relationship between class, access to education and social mobility. In order to do so, we first focus on children and assess the probability of being literate according to their parents’ socio-economic status. Although inequality in education declined during the period under study, this social gap was still substantial in 1905. Linking where these children lived with the location of public schools, we show that, although the expansion of the supply of schools improved access to education of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, the public effort was clearly insufficient to overcome the challenges these families faced. Lastly, we analyse the returns to education by studying social mobility. In this regard, we have matched the children existing in our sample in 1880 with their corresponding adult-selves in 1905, 25 years later, using record linkage techniques. Our analysis shows that letting literate enhanced children's chances of moving up the social ladder. Taking together, our results show that high inequality levels, together with an inadequate schooling system, prevented a significant fraction of the schooling-age population to access education and thus limited subsequent economic growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Francisco J. Beltrán Tapia & Santiago de Miguel Salanova, 2019. "Class, education and social mobility: Madrid, 1880-1905," Working Papers 0146, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  • Handle: RePEc:hes:wpaper:0146

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Persson,Karl Gunnar & Sharp,Paul, 2015. "An Economic History of Europe," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107095564.
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    4. Spufford,Peter, 1989. "Money and its Use in Medieval Europe," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521375900.
    5. Redish, Angela, 1990. "The Evolution of the Gold Standard in England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 789-805, December.
    6. N. J. Mayhew, 1995. "Population, money supply, and the velocity of circulation in England, 1300–1700," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 48(2), pages 238-257, May.
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    More about this item


    Inequality; schooling; education; social mobility;

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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