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Historical frontiers and the rise of inequality: the case of the frontier of Granada

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Daniel Oto-Peralías, Diego Romero-Ávila

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Abstract

This paper explores the political economy that leads frontier regions to be unequal. By focusing on the presence of a stable frontier between Castile and the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada in the late Middle Ages, our analysis shows how a historical border may generate differences in inequality that can become extremely persistent. We argue that the dynamics of being a militarily insecure frontier region created the conditions on the Castilian side for a high concentration of economic and political power. Through the application of a border specification and a spatial regression discontinuity design to municipal-level data, we find that municipalities on the Castilian side have a significantly higher percentage of landless workers, a greater accumulation of wealth, and more jurisdictional rights among the privileged orders, as measured in the eighteenth century. We use current indicators of land inequality and development to show that the effect of the frontier of Granada persists even today.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-98
JournalJournal of the European Economic Association
Volume15
Issue number1
Early online date15 Dec 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

    Research areas

  • Historical Frontiers, Inequality, Spanish Reconquest, Spatial Regression Discontinuity Analysis

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