Alexandra L. Cermeño

Economic History PhD - Assistant Professor

I currently work as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at CUNEF Universidad. I am also a research fellow at the Department of Economic History at Lund University and a research associate of Instituto Figuerola, part of Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, where I defended my PhD thesis in June 2016. My broader research interests are related to the effects of place-based policies on the evolution of regional inequality over time and space, combining long-term data and modern techniques such as Geographic Information Systems and spatial econometrics.

My thesis assesses the patterns of concentration of service employment addressing technological change, the role of factor endowments and market size, as well as the long-term spatial effects of human capital shocks during the 20th century in the United States.

I have worked on assessing the long-run effect of several policies and their spatial diffusion in different countries, including the role of universities across time and space in US counties, the role of town foundations and the creation of railroad stations in the population trends and education of Early modern and industrializing Sweden respectively.

My interest in long-run spatial dynamics leads me to broad interests in terms of time and space and a varied network of collaborators. I am currently involved in different projects, including the effect of church investments since the 13th century on population, agricultural productivity, and inequality over the long run; the effects of regional borders in price formation in Early Modern Spain; and the spatial patterns of gender inequality in Africa, among others.

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Ongoing Research.

Stunting and wasting in a growing economy

Biological Living Standards in Portugal, 1924-1994

Portugal's real income per head grew by a factor of eight during the second half of the twentieth century, a period of fast convergence towards Western European standards of living. We use a new sample of about 2,000 children to document trends in the prevalence of stunting and wasting in the city of Lisbon between 1945 and 1994. We find that stunting and wasting fell quickly in the 1950s and 1960s. This happened for males and females, and for infants (0 to 36 months of age) as well as children (2 to 10 years of age). We additionally use a sample of 17,000 young adult males covering the entire country which shows a similar decrease in the incidence of wasting and stunting, with the expected time lag. We discuss these trends in relation to changes in income and public policy which affected the ontogenetic environment of children. With Nuno Palma , Renato Pistola

All roads lead to market integration.

Lessons from a spatial analysis of the wheat market in 18th century Spain.

This paper uses newly collected data from a large-scale census (Catastro de la Ensenada) to investigate the scale and causes of market integration in eighteenth century Spain. We use wheat prices observed in more than 5,200 municipalities to analyse the local spatial dependence of prices. We detect several regional clusters in the centre and coasts but find that these were not integrated with each other. We then investigate the first nature, second nature, and demand side determinants of these clusters and find that although geographical constrains like terrain roughness play a negatively significant role, the transportation network allowed connected municipalities to alleviate such obstacles. Our results suggest that unfavourable geographical conditions can be overcome by investments in transportation infrastructures. With Carlos Santiago

Working Paper

Building up faith

The relationship between local wealth and church investments in Medieval Sweden

- with Kerstin Enflo, Department of Economic History, Lund University. With Kerstin Enflo

Learning or competition:

Evidence from Sweden during the second industrial revolution

with C. Jara-Figueroa and C. Hidalgo -MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and K. Enflo, Department of Economic History, Lund University

Trading health for jobs: biological consequences of rural-to-urban migration

with A. Brzezinski, Nuno Palma and Renato Pistola

What hath God wrought?

Telegraph diffusion and regional growth in Spain

with Carlos Santiago - UC3M With Carlos Santiago


  • 12 / 2021

    Agricliometrics IV - Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

    Closing the price gap on wheat markets in early modern Spain

  • 11 / 2021

    Research Seminar at Universidad of Gothenburg

    The multiplier of destructive creation: a multisector spatial analysis of the investments for WW2 in the US.

  • 10 / 2021

    African economic history meeting - Lund University

    A Historical Gender Gap Index for Sub-Saharan Africa. Trends and insights from the past 50 years.

  • 4 / 2021

    Economic History Association - Annual Meeting (Online).

    ”All roads lead to market integration? Spatial integration of grain markets in 18th century Spain"

  • 10 / 2019

    Research Seminar at Universidad de Barcelona

    "Building up faith: the relationship between church building and pre-industrial population"

  • 10 / 2019

    14th North American Meeting of the Urban Economics Association Federal Reserve of Philadelphia, USA.

    ”Can kings create towns that thrive? The long-run implications of a town foundation policy”

  • 8 / 2019

    European Historical Economics Society Paris, France.

    ”Building up faith: the relation- ship between church building and pre-industrial population”

  • 7 / 2019

    4th Sound for Seniors NTNU, Trondheim, Norway.

    ”Building up faith: the relationship between church building and pre-industrial population”

  • 4 / 2019

    Economic History Society Annual Conference - Queens University, Belfast.

    ’Building up faith: the relationship between church building and pre-industrial population’

  • 9 / 2018

    13th Sound Economic History Workshop in Gothenburg, Sweden

    Railways and Reform: How did the train enhance the Nation State

  • 7 / 2018

    World Economic History Congress - Boston (USA)

    Presenting "Building up faith: The relationship between local wealth and church investments in Medieval Sweden." in “Conversion out of Poverty?” (Scheduled)

  • 10 / 2017

    12th Swedish Economic History Meeting - Stockholm University (Sweden)

    Can Kings Create Towns that Thrive? The long-run implications of new town foundations

  • 9 / 2017

    12th European Historical Economics Society Conference - Tübingen University (Germany)

    Can Kings Create Towns that Thrive? The long-run implications of new town foundations

  • 9 / 2017

    12th Sound Economic History Workshop, Jyväskylä University (Finland)

    Can Kings Create Towns that Thrive? Urbanisation and agricultural surplus in Sweden 1570-1810

  • 3 / 2017

    Economic History Association Annual Meeting - Royal Holloway (UK)

    Knowledge shocks diffusion and the resilience of regional inequality


  • Lund University
  • Department of Economic History Alfa 1 2097
  • Scheelevägen 15b Lund, Sweden