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On the human capital of Inca Indios before and after the Spanish conquest: Was there a "pre-colonial legacy"?

  • Juif, Dácil-Tania
  • Baten, Joerg

Not only the colonial period, but also the pre-colonial times might have influenced later development patterns. In this study we assess a potential pre-colonial legacy hypothesis for the case of the Andean region. In order to analyze the hypothesis, we study the human capital of Inca Indios, using age-heaping-based techniques to estimate basic numeracy skills. We find that Peruvian Inca Indios had only around half the numeracy level of the Spanish invaders. The hypothesis holds even after adjusting for a number of potential biases. Moreover, the finding has also crucial implications for the narrative of the military crisis of the Inca Empire. A number of explanations have been given as to why the Old American Empires were not able to defend their territory against the Spanish invaders in the early 16th century. We add an economic hypothesis to the debate and test it with new evidence: Were the human capital formation efforts of the Inca economy perhaps too limited, making it difficult to react appropriately to the Spanish challenge?

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Paper provided by University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences in its series University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance with number 27.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuewef:27
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  1. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," Working Papers 15, Center for Global Development.
  2. Melissa Dell, 2010. "The Persistent Effects of Peru's Mining Mita," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(6), pages 1863-1903, November.
  3. Jörg Baten & Dorothee Crayen, 2008. "Global Trends in Numeracy 1820-1949 and its Implications for Long-Run Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 2218, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Economics department, UCL, Louvain,David de la Croix, CORE & Raouf Boucekkine & David de la Croix & Dominique Peeters, 2006. "Early literacy achievements, population density and the transition to modern growth," Computing in Economics and Finance 2006 205, Society for Computational Economics.
  5. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," CEPR Discussion Papers 7277, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Baten, Joerg & Ma, Debin & Morgan, Stephen & Wang, Qing, 2010. "Evolution of living standards and human capital in China in the 18-20th centuries: Evidences from real wages, age-heaping, and anthropometrics," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 347-359, July.
  7. Becker, Sascha & Woessmann, Ludger, 2010. "The Effect of Protestantism on Education before the Industrialization: Evidence from 1816 Prussia," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2010-01, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  8. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2009. "Five Centuries of Latin American Inequality," NBER Working Papers 15305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  10. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal Of Fortune: Geography And Institutions In The Making Of The Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294, November.
  11. Dobado González, Rafael & García Montero, Héctor, 2010. "Colonial Origins of Inequality in Hispanic America? Some Reflections Based on New Empirical Evidence," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 28(02), pages 253-277, September.
  12. Baten, Joerg & Mumme, Christina, 2010. "Globalization and educational inequality during the 18th to 20th centuries: Latin America in global comparison," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 28(02), pages 279-305, September.
  13. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2000. "International Comparisons of Real Product, 1820-1990: An Alternative Data Set," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-41, January.
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