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Social mobility in nineteenth century Spain: Valencia, 1841-1870

Carlos Santiago Caballero

IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola

Abstract: The central decades of the nineteenth century were a key period for the economic development of Spain. An increasing industrial sector, unprecedented economic growth, rising domestic and international economic integration, the creation of modern communication and transport networks and radical institutional reforms. However, our knowledge of the economic history of those key years is far from been perfect. This paper attempts to shed some light on this fundamental period of the economic history of Spain by looking at an almost unexplored field in premodern Spain, the changes in social mobility using an extensive sample of marriage records from the region of Valencia, one of the main economies of the country. During the period under analysis, Valencia followed a particular path of growth based on agrarian capitalism focused on international markets. Our results suggest that social mobility improved between 1840 and 1850 but that the situation quickly reversed during the following decades. The opportunities offered to individuals raised by poorer families in agriculture and manufacturing disappeared, and by 1870, Valencia was a much less mobile society. The analysis of the determinants of upward mobility suggests that in a society where education was directly correlated with the income of the household, the status of the family was a key factor improving the mobility of the upper social classes and limiting that of the lower. Inequality also played a role and more equal locations improved the chances of upward mobility, supporting the idea of the Great Gatsby curve. By 1870 Valencia had become a polarised society, where the benefits of the rising domestic integration and globalisation were enjoyed by a small elite, while the lowest part of the income distribution suffered increasing pauperisation.

Keywords: globalisation; industrialisation; inequality; social; mobility (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O14 N93 N33 D63 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his
Date: 2018-10
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