Sustenance and strife. Standards of living an family vulnerability during Spain's industrialisation. The Bilbao estuary, 1914-1935 Articles uri icon

publication date

  • January 2023

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 32

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0212-6109

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2041-3335


  • Did industrialisation improve standards of living in interwar industrial Spain? We seek to contrast this empirically with high frequency data from 1914 until 1936 for the Bilbao area, an emerging industrial centre. Contrary to existing historiography suggesting that overall standards of living improved, we find that welfare ratios remained at the same level and, at times, fluctuated significantly below sustenance levels. Demographic and socioeconomic variables were highly responsive to short-term real wage shocks driven by food price increases and the delay in nominal wage increases. Interwar industrialisation provided improvements, but did not provide protection from recurring deprivations and these may have constituted an important part of future political and socioeconomic polarisation and violence.


  • History
  • Sociology
  • Statistics


  • standards of living; spain; industrialisation; mortality; family vulnerability; niveles de vida; espaƱa; industrializaciĆ³n; mortalidad; vulnerabilidad familiar