What price a roof? Housing and the cost of living in 16th-century Toledo
By Mauricio Drelichman and David Gonzalez Agudo
Paper given at the Economic History Society Annual Conference, University of Oxford (2012)
Abstract: Data on housing costs and rental markets for the early modern period are notoriously scarce. We build a database of rent paid on 183 properties belonging to the Cathedral Chapter of Toledo between 1489 and 1600. Using detailed information on location, physical characteristics of the property, and the identity of the renter, we reconstruct housing costs for various social groups and trace the effect of exogenous shocks on the rental market. We then use our data to explore the impact of adding rent to early modern price indices and estimates of living standards. Price indices show a moderate effect. When comparing the living standards of Toledo to two northern European locations, the addition of rent reduces the gap between them by up to 18%.