Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 409–464

The economic consequences of the Spanish Reconquest: the long-term effects of Medieval conquest and colonization


DOI: 10.1007/s10887-016-9132-9

Cite this article as:
Oto-Peralías, D. & Romero-Ávila, D. J Econ Growth (2016) 21: 409. doi:10.1007/s10887-016-9132-9


This paper shows that a historical process that ended more than five centuries ago, the Reconquest, is very important to explain Spanish regional economic development down to the present day. An indicator measuring the rate of Reconquest reveals a heavily negative effect on current income differences across the Spanish provinces. A main intervening factor in the impact the Reconquest has had is the concentration of economic and political power in a few hands, excluding large segments of the population from access to economic opportunities when Spain entered the industrialization phase. The timing of the effect is consistent with this argument. A general implication of our analysis is that large frontier expansions may favor a political equilibrium among the colonizing agents that is biased toward the elite, creating the conditions for an inegalitarian society, with negative consequences for long-term economic development.


Economic development Political power Structural inequality Spanish Reconquest History 

JEL Classification

C21 N2 O1 

Supplementary material

10887_2016_9132_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (381 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 381 KB)

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
the Spanish Ministry of Economics and Competitiveness
  • ECO2012-35430
and the Andalusian Council for Innovation and Science
  • Excellence Project SEJ-4546

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Management, Centre for Responsible Banking & FinanceUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK
  2. 2.Departamento de Economía, Métodos Cuantitativos e Historia EconómicaUniversidad Pablo de OlavideSevillaSpain

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