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Regional Disparities In Italy Over The Long Run: The Role Of Human Capital And Trade Policy


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    (IMT, Lucca, Italy)

  • Marco PERCOCO

    (Università Bocconi)


The well known Italian dualism in terms of development disparities between the North and the South has been one of the most debated issues in economics over the last few decades. In the aftermath of the Unification of Italy, the gap between North and South in terms of human capital stock was more relevant than the dualism in terms of GDP per capita. In 1871 the percentage of population able to read and write was 57.7% in the North-West and only 15.9% in the South, while there is no evidence of income disparities. Interestingly, in 1951 income per capita in Southern regions was only about 50% of that of the North. Bearing this evidence in mind, and using a novel panel dataset, we in-vestigate the pattern of regional development focusing on the role of initial hu-man capital conditions as a major driver of growth over the period 1891–1951. We provide further empirical evidence on the impact of protectionist trade poli-cies in the late 19th century on long run development. We find that a numerical-ly large human capital stock in the North provided fertile soil for early industri-alization, while the protection of agriculture resulted in an incentive for the South to specialize further in the primary sector, which turned out to be harmful in the long run.

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Article provided by Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var in its journal Région et Développement.

Volume (Year): 33 (2011)
Issue (Month): ()
Pages: 81-105

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Handle: RePEc:tou:journl:v:33:y:2011:p:81-105

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  1. Rodriguez-Pose, Andres & Gill, Nicholas, 2006. "How does trade affect regional disparities?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1201-1222, July.
  2. O'Rourke, K, 1997. "Tariffs and Growth in the Late 19th Century," Papers 97/18, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
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Cited by:
  1. Giuseppe Bertola & Paolo Sestito, 2011. "A Comparative Perspective on Italy's Human Capital Accumulation," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 06, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  2. Maurice CATIN & Mohamed HAZEM, 2012. "Les Disparités De Taux D’Alphabétisation Selon Les Genres Dans Les Délégations Tunisiennes : Une Approche Par L’Économétrie Spatiale," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 35, pages 177-193.


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