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Is extraction bad? Encomienda and development in Colombia since 1560

Faguet, Jean-Paul ORCID: 0000-0002-7188-0098, Matajira, Camilo and Sánchez, Fabio (2017) Is extraction bad? Encomienda and development in Colombia since 1560. Documentos Cede, 48. Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia.

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We explore the impact of encomienda, a forced-labor institution imposed by the Spanish throughout Latin America during three centuries, on long-term development outcomes in Colombia. Despite being a classically extractive institution, municipalities that had encomiendas in 1560 have higher development indicators than otherwise-similar, neighboring municipalities without. Encomienda is associated with higher municipal GDP/capita, lower poverty and infant mortality, and higher secondary school enrolments today. Further probing implies a mechanism by which encomenderos founded the local state in the colonial territories they dominated. This stronger local state persisted through Colombia’s war of independence and the chronic instability of the early republic. It mobilized resources and invested in public goods in ways that initially suited encomenderos, but over long periods of time also spurred economic and human development. Our results highlight the benefits of disaggregating “institutions” to analytically discrete components, and of pushing analysis to the subnational level.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Universidad de los Andes
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
JEL classification: H - Public Economics > H7 - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations > H70 - General
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N36 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: Latin America; Caribbean
N - Economic History > N9 - Regional and Urban History > N96 - Latin America; Caribbean
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O10 - General
Date Deposited: 24 May 2019 09:27
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2021 00:17

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