Recent studies on the development of the Spanish economy in the nineteenth century have argued that the social costs for the provision of a railway network were excessive and may have exceeded its long-term benefits (1). This view is based on the postulated negative effects of the General Railway Law of 1855 which offered incentives to investors in order to attract foreign capital into railways. According to Tortella, the 1855 law diverted scarce savings away from alternative manufacturing investments. His estimates show that in 1865 the ratio of railway to manufacturing investments was 6.6 (2). Furthermore, because the government exempted the inputs required for the establishment of a railway system from customs duties, the potential feedbacks from railway construction to the domestic iron industry were limited. This fact led Nadal to argue that the state policy missed ‘a great opportunity’ of promoting the growth of Spanish metallurgy (3).


Foreign Capital Railway Network Railway Company Spanish Economy Railway Construction 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    J. Nadal, El Fracaso de la Revolución Industrial en Eapaña’1814–1913 (Barcelona, 1975) 2 and 6 (hereafter, Fracaso),Google Scholar
  2. G. Tortella, Los Orígenes del Capitalismo en España (Madrid, 1973), ch. 5 (hereafter, Orígenes). There is an abridged English version of Nadal’s work in C. M. Cipolla (ed), The Fontana Economic History of Europe (London, 1973) vol. 4 (2) pp. 532–626. For a recent survey of these views, see J. Harrison, An Economic History of Modern Spain (Manchester, 1978) pp. 48–54.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    In an unpublished work on the Spanish economy in the nineteenth century, Tortella appears to have revised his views, see G. Tortella, La Economía Española, 1830–1900 Valencia, 1980), in particular, chs 5 and 7.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    For a useful survey of the social saving literature, see P. K. O’Brien, The New Economic History of Railways (London, 1977) andGoogle Scholar
  5. R. Fogel, ‘Notes on the Social Saving Controversy’, Journal of Economic History, XXXIX (1979) pp. 1–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 9.
    D. R. Ringrose, Transportation and Economic Stagnation in Spain’ 1750–1850 (Durham, 1970).Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Mulhall states that Spanish income in 1879 was 175 million pounds or 4375 million pesetas, see M. Mulhall, Progress of the World (London, 1880) p. 437.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    Tedde has estimated that in the 1870s 60 per cent of the capital of railway companies was held by foreigners, see P. Tedde, ‘Las Compañías Ferroviarias en España (1855–1935)’ in M. Artola (ed), Los Ferrocarriles en España, 1844–1943 (Madrid, 1978) vol. II, pp. 38–43. Thus, interest paid to France amounted to 30 million pesetas or 7 per cent of Spain’s income.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    See Thesis, pp. 70–1 for calculations. National income estimate from Instituto de Estudios Fiscales, Datos Básicos para la Historia Financiera de España (Madrid, 1978) p. 1142. There is an alternative estimate by the Consejo de Economía Nacional which is 24 per cent lower, boosting social savings up to 23 per cent, see B. R. Mitchell, European Historical Statistics (1978) Table Jl, p. 415.Google Scholar
  10. 16.
    The feeding allowance for a mule year is 30.9 Hls of barley. It includes a one-year maintenance ration of 23 Hls plus an extra feeding of 7.9 Hls while at work. For calculations, see Thesis, Table 6, pp. 83–4. Thus, total consumption of barley would have amounted to 16.04 million Hls or 1.12 million Has of land, for yield of barley see Junta Consultiva Agronómica, Avance Estadíistico sobre el Cultivo Cereal y de Leguminosas Asociadas (Madrid, 1891), vol. III, pp. 597–8. There are two estimates for the acreage under wheat in 1891. The first one was produced by the Junta, pp. 595–6. The second was estimated by E. de la Sotilla, ‘Produccion y Riqueza Agrícola de España en el último decenio del siglo XIX y primero del XX’, Boletín de Agricultura Técnica y Económica (1911). Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    Wheat yields come to 9.5 Hls/Ha, same source as barley yields, see footnote 16. Wheat prices for 1878 as given in N. Sanchez Albornoz, Los Precios Agrícolas durante la2amitad del siglo XIX (Madrid, 1975) Table 3.2, p. 180.Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    G. Toniolo, ‘Railways and Economic Growth in Southern Europe: Some Methodological Remarks’, unpublished paper delivered at the conference on Railways and Western Economic Development (Madrid, 1979).Google Scholar
  13. 21.
    A. D. Thaer, The Principles of Agriculture (London, 1844) p. 74.Google Scholar
  14. 24.
    See F. B. Morrison, Feeds and Feeding. A Handbook for the Student and the Stockman (New York, 1936) Table III in the Appendix, and Tables 6 and 7 in Chapter II of Thesis.Google Scholar
  15. 27.
    I have estimated the farm animal population in 1878 by assuming a linear trend between the 1865 and 1891 livestock censuses and a constant share of farm animals over this period. For livestock census, see J. Sanz et al., ‘Contribucion al Analisis Historico de la Ganaderia Española, 1865–1929’, Agricultura y Sociedad, X (1979) 105–169.Google Scholar

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© St Antony’s College, Oxford 1983

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  • Antonio Gomez-Mendoza

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