Expropriation of church wealth and political conflict in 19th century Colombia

Mateo Uribe-Castro

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6 Scopus citations


The redefinition of Catholic Church property rights was common in Europe and the Americas during late eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries. Given the Church's power and the level of political violence after independence, these reforms were influential in Latin America. This paper focuses on Colombia after 1850 and measures the impact of the expropriation of Church's assets on political violence. With yearly data on the number of battles per municipality, archival information on the reform, and difference-in-differences, the paper documents a reduction of political violence in places where the Church's assets were expropriated. The paper contests the traditional idea of the expropriation of Church's real estate as a source of political violence. It highlights changes in political competition after the alliance between Conservative factions and the Church was weakened. Specifically, it shows the reduction in political violence was concentrated in municipalities with high political competition and where the Conservative Party was relatively weak.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101271
JournalExplorations in Economic History
StatePublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics


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