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The economic consequences of the Spanish Reconquest: the long-term effects of medieval conquest and colonization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Daniel Oto Peralias, Diego Romero-Ávila

School/Research organisations


This paper shows that a historical process that ended more than five centuries ago, the Reconquest, is very important to explain Spanish regional economic development down to the present day. An indicator measuring the rate of Reconquest reveals a heavily negative effect on current income differences across the Spanish provinces. A main intervening factor in the impact the Reconquest has had is the concentration of economic and political power in a few hands, excluding large segments of the population from access to economic opportunities when Spain entered the industrialization phase. The timing of the effect is consistent with this argument. A general implication of our analysis is that large frontier expansions may favor a political equilibrium among the colonizing agents that is biased toward the elite, creating the conditions for an inegalitarian society, with negative consequences for long-term economic development.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409–464
Number of pages56
JournalJournal of Economic Growth
Issue number4
Early online date13 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

    Research areas

  • Economic development, Political power, Structural inequality, Spanish Reconquest, History

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ID: 241999785