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The Institutionalisation Of Inequality In Colonial Latin America

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Chapter Summary

Many of the initial conditions of Latin American inequality originated during the formation of colonial settler societies in the late 15th to early 19th century. This chapter describes how factor market regulations and the restrictions on factor mobility were embedded in a social order legitimising the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of the Creole elite. Special attention is paid to the institutional arrangements that were introduced to allocate labour, capital and land as well as protect exclusive colonial trade relations. The chapter shows that these colonial legacies differed largely across the region depending on specific local conditions such as the ethnic composition of the population and the strength of indigenous institutions, the presence of specific natural resource endowments and the specific geographic location which determined the relative distance to the Iberian peninsula and the Atlantic economy.

Keywords: Atlantic economy; colonial trade relations; Creole elite; factor market regulations; factor mobility; Iberian peninsula; institutional arrangements; Latin American inequality; natural resource endowments



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