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Child and Youth Labour in the Spanish Mining Sector: 1860-1940

Miguel Pérez de Perceval Verde (), Ángel Martinez Soto () and Andrés Sánchez Picón ()
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Andrés Sánchez Picón: Universidad de Almería, Almería, Spain

No 1310, Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) from Asociación Española de Historia Económica

Abstract: This paper analyses the employment of children in the Spanish mining sector at the highest point of its history (golden age). The main source used is Spain’s official Mining Statistics that show that child labour was widely used throughout the Spanish peninsula: an average of 14-17% of total workers between 1860 and 1920. Subsequently, the incidence of child labour reduced steadily and by 1930 had fallen to below 9%. The changes were not a direct result of the legislation that had become increasingly restrictive since 1900, but were brought about by factors related to the organisation of the different activities involved in mining. Furthermore, there was a significant territorial bias whereby south-eastern areas (particularly the provinces of Murcia and Almeria) were characterised by very high levels of child labour (an average of 30% in the second half of the nineteenth century). The paper examines the factors that determine this different distribution, analysing both the specific aspects of child labour and the reasons for using this type of workforce. In addition, the accounts of some of the mines in these two provinces have been used in order to study the evolution of child wages which provides further information to help us understand the mining organisation models. Finally, a case study from the 1870s is presented which measures the contribution that the mining children made to the family economy, with results remarkably similar to those of studies of English and American industrial districts in the nineteenth century.

Keywords: Child labour; Spanish mining; labour legislation; mining wages (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J30 L71 N3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 36
Date: 2013-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his, nep-hme and nep-lma
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