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Inequality in Spain, 1900-2000: markets, institutions and regulation

16th National Competition for Economic Research Grants

Economic history

Senior Researcher : Miguel Artola Blanco

Research Centre or Institution : Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.


This research project studies the evolution of income inequality in Spain during the twentieth century. Three basic objectives are pursued. First, to improve the empirical evidence, starting with a new and more detailed estimate of the distribution of the national income between land, labour and capital. Second, to carry a systematic study on inequality in the labour market, in agriculture and in the real estate market. The starting hypothesis is that these three areas have been key in generating the major shifts in the personal distribution of income. Finally, to present a new estimate on household income inequality that considers market incomes, taxes and social transfers.

During these two years, we have elaborated an estimate of the distribution of national income between labour and capital in the long-term by combining new sources for the historical period and carrying a new procedure of linking national accounts in the most recent period. Results show that there have been three major phases in the distribution of factor income: 1850-1920, 1920-1980, 1980-2015. The distributional trends have been mostly determined by industrialization, the regulation of the labour market and the growth of the real estate market.

In addition, we have made a new estimate on the distribution of personal income combining tax sources (i.e. the income tax) together with national accounts. The results show that the reduction in inequalities during the central decades of the twentieth century was slower than previously thought. Furthermore, real estate market cycles have constituted a major force in mitigating the increase in income inequalities.

Finally, we have carried a new estimate on land ownership from 1850 to 1936. This paper aims to address a classic topic in Spanish history, such as determining whether socio-economic conditions made political conflict likelier. The available data indicate that the purchase of land by labourers remained at very low levels throughout the period, demonstrating that the persistence of important institutional barriers to entry.


Scientific Production
Magazine Articles -
Communications at national conferences 4
Communications at international conferences 6


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