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Historical Frontiers and the Rise of Inequality: The Case of the Frontier of Granada

Daniel Oto-Peralías and Diego Romero-Ávila ()

Journal of the European Economic Association, 2017, vol. 15, issue 1, 54-98

Abstract: This paper explores the political economy that leads frontier regions to be unequal. By focusing on the presence of a stable frontier between Castile and the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada in the late Middle Ages, our analysis shows how a historical border may generate differences in inequality that can become extremely persistent. We argue that the dynamics of being a militarily insecure frontier region created the conditions on the Castilian side for a high concentration of economic and political power. Through the application of a border specification and a spatial regression discontinuity design to municipal-level data, we find that municipalities on the Castilian side have a significantly higher percentage of landless workers, a greater accumulation of wealth, and more jurisdictional rights among the privileged orders, as measured in the 18th century. We use current indicators of land inequality and development to show that the effect of the frontier of Granada persists even today.

JEL-codes: C14 N2 N9 O1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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