Authors Affiliation: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.
The rise and fall of Spain (1270–1850)1
Article first published online: 1 JUN 2012
© Economic History Society 2012
The Economic History Review
Volume 66, Issue 1, pages 1–37, February 2013
How to Cite
ÁLVAREZ-NOGAL, C. and DE LA ESCOSURA, L. P. (2013), The rise and fall of Spain (1270–1850). The Economic History Review, 66: 1–37. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2012.00656.x
- Issue published online: 17 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 1 JUN 2012
- Date submitted 11 April 2011; Revised version submitted 2 October 2011; Accepted 3 January 2012
Two distinctive regimes are distinguished in Spain over half a millennium. The first one (1270s–1590s) corresponds to a high land–labour ratio frontier economy, which is pastoral, trade-oriented, and led by towns. Wages and food consumption were relatively high. Sustained per capita growth occurred from the end of the Reconquest (1264) to the Black Death (1340s) and resumed from the 1390s only broken by late fifteenth-century turmoil. A second regime (1600s–1810s) corresponds to a more agricultural and densely populated low-wage economy which, although it grew at a pace similar to that of 1270–1600, remained at a lower level. Contrary to pre-industrial western Europe, Spain achieved its highest living standards in the 1340s, not by mid-fifteenth century. Although its death toll was lower, the plague had a more damaging impact on Spain and, far from releasing non-existent demographic pressure, destroyed the equilibrium between scarce population and abundant resources. Pre-1350 per capita income was reached by the late sixteenth century but only exceeded after 1820.