Islam and Human Capital in Historical Spain

29 Pages Posted: 8 May 2020

See all articles by Francesco Cinnirella

Francesco Cinnirella

University of Bergamo; University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CAGE

Alireza Naghavi

University of Bologna - Department of Economics

Giovanni Prarolo

University of Bologna; University of Milan - Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano (LdA)

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Date Written: April 2020

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of Muslim rule on human capital development. Using a unique novel dataset containing yearly data on Muslim presence in the period 711-1492 and literacy rate in 1900 for about 7500 municipalities in Spain, we estimate the local impact of the length of Muslim rule in the medieval period on literacy rate. Our findings reveal an extremely robust negative relationship between length of Muslim rule and levels of human capital. This result is robust to the inclusion of other possible confounding factors such as the Reconquista and the Inquisition. We argue that the characteristics of Islamic law discouraged the formation of a strong merchant class and subsequently impeded the development of forms of local self-government. This translated into lower levels of human capital for regions longer under Muslim rule. Indeed, panel estimates on a sample of cities provide evidence that locations under Muslim domination missed out on the critical junctures of institutional changes which led to a stagnation in the accumulation of human capital.

Keywords: education, Literacy, Merchant class, Muslim rule, Self-government, Spain

JEL Classification: H75, I25, N33, O10, O30, Z12

Suggested Citation

Cinnirella, Francesco and Naghavi, Alireza and Prarolo, Giovanni, Islam and Human Capital in Historical Spain (April 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14561, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3594182

Francesco Cinnirella (Contact Author)

University of Bergamo ( email )

Via dei Caniana 2
Bergamo, 24129
Italy

University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics ( email )

DK-5230 Odense
Denmark

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschingerstrasse 5
Munich, 81679
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

CAGE ( email )

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Alireza Naghavi

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 2
Bologna, 40126
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://alirezanaghavi.altervista.org/

Giovanni Prarolo

University of Bologna ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 2
Bologna, 40100
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://www2.dse.unibo.it/prarolo/

University of Milan - Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano (LdA) ( email )

Via P. Amedeo 34
Milano, Mi 20122
Italy

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