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FAILURE TO LAUNCH: COST OF LIVING AND LIVING STANDARDS IN PERU DURING THE 19TH CENTURY*

Leticia Arroyo Abad ()

Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, 2014, vol. 32, issue 1, 47-76

Abstract: Based on a variety of archival sources, this paper presents estimations for cost of living and living standards for Lima, Peru during the 19th century. During this century Peru experienced deep swings in economic activity marked by the independence wars, the War of the Pacific, and a commodity boom. These new series show that a sizable inflationary period during the guano age had dampening effects on the living standards of the popular class. While living standards peaked by mid 1850s, GDP per capita did not do so until two decades later. These results suggest that the guano bonanza failed to lift working-class living standards above subsistence levels. Even though living standards climbed steadily, almost reaching those of England, all these gains were lost by the end of the century. Basado en diversas fuentes primarias, este artículo presenta estimaciones de costo de vida y estándares de vida para Lima, Perú durante el siglo XIX. Durante esta centuria este país sufrió profundos vaivenes en la actividad económica debido a las guerras de la independencia, la guerra del Pacífico y a un auge monoexportador. Estas series delinean un importante proceso inflacionario durante la era del guano que tuvo efectos adversos en los estándares de vida de la clase popular. Mientras que los estándares de vida llegaron a su punto máximo en los mediados de la década de los 50, el PIB per cápita lo hizo dos décadas más tarde. Estos resultados sugieren que la bonanza del guano no logró mejorar el bienestar económico de la clase popular de manera sustentable. A pesar de alcanzar niveles cercanos al inglés, estos beneficios se evaporaron al fin de siglo.

Date: 2014
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