Historical Frontiers and the Rise of Inequality. The Case of the Frontier of Granada
Journal of the European Economic Association, Forthcoming
Posted: 9 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2016
This paper explores the political economy that leads frontier regions to be unequal. By focusing on the presence of a stable frontier between Castile and the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada in the late Middle Ages, our analysis shows how a historical border may generate differences in inequality that can become extremely persistent. We argue that the dynamics of being a militarily insecure frontier region created the conditions on the Castilian side for a high concentration of economic and political power. Through the application of a border specification and a spatial regression discontinuity design to municipal-level data, we find that municipalities on the Castilian side have a significantly higher percentage of landless workers, a greater accumulation of wealth, and more jurisdictional rights among the privileged orders, as measured in the eighteenth century. We use current indicators of land inequality and development to show that the effect of the frontier of Granada persists even today.
Keywords: Historical Frontiers, Political Power, Inequality, Spanish Reconquest, Frontier of Granada, Spatial Regression Discontinuity Analysis
JEL Classification: C14, N2, N9, O1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation