Frontiers, Warfare and Economic Geography: The Case of Spain

47 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2017 Last revised: 8 May 2020

Date Written: May 4, 2020


This paper investigates the potential of frontiers to shape the economic geography of countries. I focus on the case of Spain to explore how historical frontier warfare affects the colonization of the territory and the distribution of the population across the space. Exploiting a spatial discontinuity in military insecurity during the Christian colonization of central Spain in the Middle Ages, my findings suggest that medieval frontier warfare heavily conditioned the settlement of the territory, resulting in a sparse occupation of the space, low settlement density and high population concentration. These initial features of the colonization process were already visible in the early 16th century and have persisted to this day, with potential negative consequences for economic development.

Keywords: Frontiers, Warfare, Economic Geography, Spain, Europe, Spatial discontinuity.

JEL Classification: C14, N90, O1, R10

Suggested Citation

Oto‐Peralias, Daniel, Frontiers, Warfare and Economic Geography: The Case of Spain (May 4, 2020). Journal of Development Economics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Daniel Oto‐Peralias (Contact Author)

Universidad Pablo de Olavide ( email )


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