Economic Ideas and Redistributive Policy in the Spanish Parliament:The 1900 Debate on Fiscal Progressivity


  • Javier San Julián Arrupe Universitat de Barcelona



Political Economy, Parliament, Public Finance, Progressivity


This paper analyses the influence of economic thought in political debate in Spain at the end of 19th century. It studies the case of the debate in the Parliament on the introduction of progressive rates in the inheritance tax in 1900. The debate shows that the Members of Parliament at the discussion were conscious of the importance of a sound doctrinal founding of their lines of reasoning to defend their positions, for or against progressivity. Well-known European economists were often quoted as sources of authority, and, although these quotations sometimes were not rigorous but instrumental, it can be said that MPs had a fairly good degree of knowledge of contemporary trends of fiscal thought. Despite it being on a reform of a small tax, this debate was very controversial on behalf of the concern progressive taxation in a tax on capital raised in wealthy classes, represented in the Parliament. The diffusion of the discussions in media was noteworthy, thus contributing to the dissemination of economic ideas behind arguments among cultured Spanish elites.