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Economic Development in Spain, 1815-2017

Author

Listed:
  • Leandro Prados de la Escosura

    (Universidad Carlos III, CEPR)

  • Blanca Sánchez-Alonso

    (Universidad San Pablo-CEU)

Abstract

In assessments of modern Spain’s economic progress and living standards inadequate natural resources, inefficient institutions, lack of education and entrepreneurship, and foreign dependency are frequently blamed for the poor performance up to mid-twentieth century, but no persuasive arguments are provided to explain why such adverse circumstances reversed, giving way to the fast transformation of the last half a century. It makes sense, hence, to inquire firstly how much economic progress has Spain achieved and what impact had on living standards and income distribution since the end of the Peninsular War to the present and, only then, to provide an interpretation. Recent research supports the view that income per person has improved remarkably, driven by increases in labour productivity, which derived, in turn, from a more intense and efficient use of physical and human capital per worker. Exposure to international competition represented a decisive element behind growth performance. In European perspective, Spain underperformed up to 1950. Thereafter, Spain’s economy caught up with advanced countries until 2007. Although the distribution of the fruits of growth did not follow a linear trend, but a Kuznetsian inverted U pattern, higher levels of income per capita are matched by lower inequality suggesting that Spaniards’ material well-being improved substantially during the modern era.

Suggested Citation

  • Leandro Prados de la Escosura & Blanca Sánchez-Alonso, 2019. "Economic Development in Spain, 1815-2017," Working Papers 0163, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  • Handle: RePEc:hes:wpaper:0163
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    File URL: http://www.ehes.org/EHES_163.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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(4), pages 1063-1091, December.
    2. de la Fuente, Angel, 2002. "On the sources of convergence: A close look at the Spanish regions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 569-599, March.
    3. 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(3), pages 287-324, December.
    4. Facundo Alvaredo & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Income and Wealth Concentration in Spain from a Historical and Fiscal Perspective," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 1140-1167, September.
    5. Julio Martínez-Galarraga & Joan R. Rosés & Daniel A. Tirado, 2015. "The Long-Term Patterns of Regional Income Inequality in Spain, 1860-2000," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(4), pages 502-517, April.
    6. Torregrosa-Hetland, Sara, 2016. "Sticky Income Inequality In The Spanish Transition (1973-1990)," Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(1), pages 39-80, March.
    7. Michael D. Bordo, 1995. "The Gold Standard as a `Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval'," NBER Working Papers 5340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Leandro Prados de la Escosura & Carlos Santiago-Caballero, 2018. "The Napoleonic Wars: A Watershed in Spanish History?," Working Papers 0130, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    9. Bordo, Michael D. & Rockoff, Hugh, 1996. "The Gold Standard as a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approvalâ€," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 389-428, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Spain; income per person; productivity; inequality; living standards;

    JEL classification:

    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General

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