Urbanization in History: A Process of Dynamic Interactions

By A. M. Van Der Woude; Akira Hayami et al. | Go to book overview

17 Urbanization and Demographic Behaviour in Spain, 1860-1930

DAVID S. REHER

Faculdad de Ciencias Politica y Sociologia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

The process of urbanization in Europe is certainly one of the most salient aspects of the history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The growth of cities has traditionally been viewed both as a consequence of socioeconomic changes within European societies, as well as a stimulant itself of further changes in human and economic behaviour. This pivotal importance of urbanization, which renders it at one and the same time a dependent and an independent variable intimately related to the dynamics of change, makes its study fundamental to the understanding of modern Europe. While increasing urbanization was common to all of Europe, it was by no means uniform in intensity or in geographical distribution. Since the growth of cities was largely a by-product of the Industrial Revolution, the largest urban growth occurred in northern Europe. The southern fringe of the Continent lagged behind, but was not immune to the contagion of growth. Whilst in 1851 there were 28 cities with 50,000 or more inhabitants in Great Britain, and another 73 such cities in Germany in 1900, there were only 18 of that size in Spain in 1900. However, urbanization was an undeniable reality in Spain during a period in which the proportion of the population living in towns doubled.

In this chapter, I examine the relationship between Spanish patterns of urbanization and demographic behaviour. Economic, demographic, and urban variables will be used to illustrate the role of urbanization as both product and catalyst of change within Spanish society. The components of urban growth, as well as the determinants and implications of urban nuptiality, fertility, and mortality will be examined. Throughout, the ever- present reality of rural Spain will be juxtaposed to urban areas to assess, at least partially, mutual influencing factors. The results will not be conclusive, but will point rather to potentially fruitful areas for further research.

The data used in this study are taken primarily from Spanish censuses and vital registration.1 I have used a simple method to derive the rural population;

____________________
This research has been carried out with the generous help offered by IBM Spain. I would like to thank Pedro Luis Iriso Napal and Vicente Perez Moreda for their helpful comments on different parts of this chapter.
1
Censuses were taken in Spain in 1860, 1877, 1887, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930. Material from

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