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Growth under Extractive Institutions? Latin American Per Capita GDP in Colonial Times

Leticia Arroyo Abad () and Jan Luiten van Zanden

The Journal of Economic History, 2016, vol. 76, issue 4, 1182-1215

Abstract: This article presents new estimations of per capita GDP in colonial times for the two pillars of the Spanish empire: Mexico and Peru. We find dynamic economies as evidenced by increasing real wages, urbanization, and silver mining. Their growth trajectories are such that both regions reduced the gap with respect to Spain; Mexico even achieved parity at times. While experiencing swings in growth, the notable turning point is in 1780s as bottlenecks in production and later, the independence wars reduced economic activity. Our results question the notion that colonial institutions impoverished Latin America.

Date: 2016
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