The long term impact of ethnic cleansing: wealth and strong institutions?

This paper uses the 1609 expulsion of 300,000 Muslims from the Iberian peninsula to analyze the mechanisms through which exploitative institutions dampen the development of pre-industrial economies. The evidence suggests that the persistence of extractive arrangements in formerly Muslim lands stunted the development of the non-agricultural sector long after the expulsion. Arguably exogenous variation in the Christian re-settlers’ human capital is then used to investigate the extent to which initial differences in human capital explain the observed divergence in between-institutional outcomes. The results cast doubt on the long-term importance of such differences and stress the role of institutions, at least for the specific case of early modern Spain.

That is a new paper by Eric Chaney, a Berkeley econ grad now at Harvard.

4 thoughts on “The long term impact of ethnic cleansing: wealth and strong institutions?

  1. Chris,

    It reminds of a nice book I read last month, “Dogs of God”, by historian James Reston Jr. Basically, it´s a tale on how the Inquisition was essential to the formation of the Spanish state.

    Yes, to do ethnic/religious cleansing, expelling moors and jews, but also to force the local nobility of Aragon, Andaluzia and Catalonia to submit to their new “Spanish” kings.

    In other words, the ethnic cleansing was a very useful tool to build the modern Nation-State in a land of strong regional identities and loyalties. Maybe this tell us something important that also applies to Africa or to the Middle East.

    All the best,

  2. Chris,

    You would do your general reader a GREAT service, if you could add a little explanatory comment to material like this that is so self-absorbed in its narrow-band language.

    I’m well-educated, but not an academic economist. Just a few unfamiliar words and phrases in this text make the whole thing obscure to me. Here they are…

    ‘extractive arrangements’
    ‘exogenous variation’
    ‘re-settlers human capital’
    ‘between-institution outcomes’

    Given Mauricio’s comment, it looks to me like a common and familiar concept (bond some disparate elements together by creating an external ‘other’ for all to oppose) is tricked up in obscure language to pass itself off as important.

    Chris, you would help your non-academic readers by refusing to join this academic conspiracy.

    Other than this kind of linguistic puzzle, I’m enjoying your blog.


  3. Here is a quote from the last page:
    “The case of Valencia holds important insights into the long-term implications of exploitation for both the exploited and for those who hold power. The economic exploitation of Valencian Muslims for over 300 years suggests that those who benefit from this exploitation may be dooming their descendants to poverty. While the Muslims of Valencia suffered under exploitative institutions for hundreds of years, these exploitative arrangements persisted even after their expulsion. The remaining Christian population remained poorer and less developed over 150 years after the expulsion due to the persistence of these extractive arrangements.”

  4. Is it really a surprise that displacing entrenched powers leads to development? The rent-seeking behavior of those powers would be naturally aimed (intentionally or unintentionally) at maintaining their power base. Times of war would also allow more meritocratic types of advancement to occur, leading to reinvigorated and aggressive social upheaval.