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The spatial distribution of population in Spain: An anomaly in European perspective

Eduardo Gutierrez (), Enrique Moral-Benito (), Daniel Oto-Peralías () and Roberto Ramos ()
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Eduardo Gutierrez: Banco de España
Daniel Oto-Peralías: Department of Economics, Universidad Pablo de Olavide

No 21.13, Working Papers from Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics

Abstract: We exploit the GEOSTAT 2011 population grid with a very high 1-km2 resolution to document that Spain presents the lowest density of settlements among European countries. Only a small fraction of the Spanish territory is inhabited, particularly in its southern half, which goes hand in hand with a high degree of population concentration. We uncover through standard regression analysis and spatial regression discontinuity that this anomaly cannot be accounted for by adverse geographic and climatic conditions. The second part of the paper takes a historical perspective on Spain’s settlement patterns by showing that the spatial distribution of the population has been very persistent in the last two centuries, and that the abnormally low density of settlements with respect to European neighbors was already visible in the 19th century, which indicates that this phenomenon has not emerged recently as a consequence of the transformations associated with industrialization and tertiarization. Using data on ancient sites, we find that Spain did not feature scarcity of settlements in comparison to other countries in pre-medieval times, suggesting that its current anomalous settlement pattern has not always existed and is therefore not intrinsic to its geography.

Keywords: Economic Geography; Spain (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: R10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 50 pages
Date: 2021
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-geo, nep-his, nep-isf and nep-ure
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:pab:wpaper:21.13

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