Islam and human capital in historical Spain

We use a unique dataset on Muslim domination between 711-1492 and literacy in 1860 for about 7500 municipalities to study the long-run impact of Islam on human-capital in historical Spain. Reduced-form estimates show a large and robust negative relationship between length of Muslim rule and literacy. We argue that, contrary to local arrangements set up by Christians, Islamic institutions discouraged the rise of the merchant class, blocking local forms of self-government and thereby persistently hindering demand for education. Indeed, results show that a longer Muslim domination in Spain is negatively related to the share of merchants, whereas neither later episodes of trade nor differences in jurisdictions and different stages of the Reconquista affect our main results. Consistent with our interpretation, panel estimates show that cities under Muslim rule missed-out on the critical juncture to establish self-government institutions.

That is from a new paper by Francesco Cinnirella, Alieza Naghavi, and Giovanni Prarolo, via a loyal MR reader.



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