Journal of Geographical Systems

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 25–50 | Cite as

From locational fundamentals to increasing returns: the spatial concentration of population in Spain, 1787–2000

  • María Isabel Ayuda
  • Fernando Collantes
  • Vicente PinillaEmail author
Original Article


Why is population not evenly distributed throughout a country’s territory? This paper focuses on the case of Spain, in order to empirically test two complementary theoretical explanations: (a) first nature advantages or locational fundamentals; and (b) second nature advantages or increasing returns. We estimate population density and population growth equations for the case of Spain between 1787 and 2000. Our results suggest that locational fundamentals explain the distribution of population prior to industrialization and that industrialization reinforced the pre-existing regional population disparities, especially as the share of increasing-returns sectors in the Spanish economy became significant. Finally, we perform an ANOVA analysis which shows that although in the pre-industrial economy first nature advantages were the most important in explaining the growth in provincial population densities, these were progressively superseded by the influence of first via second nature effects.


New economic geography Population history Locational fundamentals Increasing returns 

JEL Classification

J10 N30 O18 R23 



We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the Spanish Ministry of Education, grants SEJ 2005-07556 and SEJ 2006-09961. Help from Jesús Mur has been invaluable. We also wish to thank Rafael Dobado, Alfonso Herranz, Luis Lanaspa, Tommy Murphy, Lorenzo del Panta, Vicente Pérez Moreda and Javier Silvestre for their help. We have been able to improve earlier versions of this paper thanks to the helpful comments received from the editors, three referees and Antonio Aznar, José Antonio Ortega, Blanca Sánchez-Alonso, Joan Rosés, Daniel Tirado, Javier Silvestre, Hans-Joachim Voth and the participants in the VII Congress of the Iberian Historical Demography Association, the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy Conference ‘Economics, History and Development’, the XXIV Congress of the Portuguese Economic and Social History Association, the II Iberian Cliometrics Workshop (Iberometrics), the VI European Historical Economics Conference, the VIII Spanish Economic History Association Conference and seminars at the Universities Complutense of Madrid, Salamanca and Zaragoza.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • María Isabel Ayuda
    • 1
  • Fernando Collantes
    • 2
  • Vicente Pinilla
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Economic AnalysisUniversity of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Applied Economics and Economic HistoryUniversity of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain

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