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Project description

A study on conflict and development in Latin America

Some literature on the subject of new institutional economics argues that institutions play a significant role in determining productivity and resource distribution, thereby affecting economic development. However, alternative perspectives propose that institutional changes are influenced by human capital, suggesting that institutions are endogenous. The ERC-funded HISTROOTS project aims to shed light on this topic by using administrative data from 1492 to 1599 concerning the initial settlers of Latin America, including their personal information. Through within-country analysis, the project will examine the diverse institutional set-ups that existed during the early years of colonisation in various geographical regions of Latin America. Additionally, HISTROOTS will create a data set mapping the locations of ancient conflicts using archaeological evidence, providing insights into how historical conflicts impact present-day conflicts.


I plan to study the effect of history on conflict and economic development with two historical microscopes.
Following the lead of the new institutional economics, part of the literature argues that institutions cause differences in productivity and factor endowments which, in turn, explain economic development. An alternative view assumes that human capital shapes institutional changes and, therefore, institutions are endogenous. In the first part of the project, which is the core of the research proposal, I will try to move one step further in this debate by taking an approach that uses administrative data on the first colonizers of Latin America. The data contain some personal characteristics on each of the settlers from 1492 to 1599 (town of origin in Spain, occupation, education, city of arrival in the Americas, etc). Using within-country analysis, since we have information on the precise destinations of the first “pobladores” (settlers), and the different institutional set-ups during the first years of colonization for different geographical areas in Latin America, I will reexamine the issue of institutions versus human capital in the explanation of economic development and conflict. The institutions in the initial times of colonization were not the same in all the regions of Latin America and, in many cases, represented an evolution of pre-Colombian institutions. The new data allows also the analysis of the interaction between human capital and institutions in the initial times. In addition the migrations and the evolution of institutions during the first century of colonization provide also some guidance for the research on the sources of institutional persistence.
In the second part I plan to go further back in time to understand how very old conflicts influence current conflict. I will construct a dataset with the location of old conflicts using archaeological evidence to analyze the dynamics of conflict by regions in the very long run.


Net EU contribution
€ 1 699 664,00
Placa de la merce, 10-12
08002 Barcelona

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Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)