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date: 23 April 2024

Economic Development in Spain, 1815–2017locked

Economic Development in Spain, 1815–2017locked

  • Leandro Prados de la EscosuraLeandro Prados de la EscosuraDepartment of Social Sciences, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
  •  and Blanca Sánchez-AlonsoBlanca Sánchez-AlonsoSchool of Business and Economics, San Pablo CEU University

Summary

In assessments of modern-day Spain’s economic progress and living standards, inadequate natural resources, inefficient institutions, lack of education and entrepreneurship, and foreign dependency are frequently blamed on poor performance up to the mid-20th century, but no persuasive arguments were provided to explain why such adverse circumstances reversed, giving way to the fast transformation that started in the 1950s. Hence, it is necessary to first inquire how much economic progress has been achieved in Spain and what impact it had on living standards and income distribution since the end of the Peninsular War to the present day, and second to provide an interpretation.

Research published in the 2010s supports the view that income per person has improved remarkably, driven by increases in labor 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. From an European perspective, Spain underperformed until 1950. Thereafter, Spain’s economy managed to catch up with more 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 wellbeing improved substantially during the modern era.

Subjects

  • Economic Development
  • Economic History

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