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Banks and Development: Jewish Communities in the Italian Renaissance and Current Economic Performance

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  • Luigi Pascali

Abstract

Do banks affect long-term economic performance? I answer this question by relying on an historical development that occurred in Italian cities during the 15th century. A sudden change in the Catholic doctrine had driven the Jews toward money lending. Cities that were hosting Jewish communities developed complex banking institutions for two reasons: first, the Jews were the only people in Italy allowed to lend for a prot; second the Franciscan reaction to Jewish usury led to the creation of charity lending institutions that evolved into many of the current Italian banks. Using Jewish demography in 1450 as an instrument, I estimate large effects of current banking development on the income-per-capita of Italian cities. Additional rm-level analyses suggest that well-functioning local banks exert large effects on aggregate productivity by reallocating resources toward more efficient firms. Controlling for province effects, using additional historical data on Jewish demography and exploiting the expulsion of the Jews from the Spanish territories in Italy in 1541, I argue that my results are not driven by omitted institutional, cultural and geographical characteristics. In particular, I show that the difference in current income between cities that hosted Jewish communities and cities that did not exists only in those regions that were not Spanish territories in the 16th century. These difference-in-difference estimates suggest that the Jewish Diaspora can explain at least 10% of the current income gap between Northern and Southern Italy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 562.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:562

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Keywords: Banks; Economic development; Persistence; Jewish demography;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Irena Grosfeld & Alexander Rodnyansky & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2010. "Persistent anti-market culture: A legacy of the Pale of Settlement and of the Holocaust," PSE Working Papers halshs-00564927, HAL.
  2. Bengtsson, Niklas & Pettersson, Jan, 2012. "The Outreach and Sustainability of Microfinance: Is There a Tradeoff?," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2012:18, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  3. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00564927 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Akbulut-Yuksel, Mevlude & Yuksel, Mutlu, 2011. "The Long-Term Direct and External Effects of Jewish Expulsions in Nazi Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 5850, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Pere Arqué-Castells & Elisabet Viladecans-Marsal, 2013. "Banking towards development: Evidence from the Spanish banking expansion plan," Working Papers 2013/8, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).

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