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Faculty of Economics

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Beltran, Tapia, F.J.

Commons, social capital, and the emergence of agricultural cooperatives in early twentieth century Spain

European Review of Economic History

Vol. 16(4) pp. 511-528 (2012)

Abstract: The emergence of Spanish agricultural cooperatives from the end of the nineteenth century was a narrative of uneven regional development. It has been argued that the cooperative movement developed in areas where small and middle-sized farms were relatively important. This paper seeks to complement this explanation by analysing the role played by the pre-existing stock of social capital. The prior importance of institutions built around the use and management of collective resources is explored as an alternative proxy for social capital in pre-industrial economies. The results show that the social networks built around common lands and irrigation communities were a key element, together with relatively high levels of human capital and the existence of a wide layer of middle size farms, in facilitating the emergence of the cooperative movement in rural areas.

Author links: Francisco Beltran  

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