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One size that didn’t fit all? Electoral franchise, fiscal capacity and the rise of mass schooling across Italy’s provinces, 1870–1911

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  • Gabriele Cappelli

    () (University of Tuebingen)

Abstract

Abstract Italy’s regions experienced different rates of human capital accumulation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although southern regions were very disadvantaged when the unification of the country took place in 1861, they caught up at a very slow pace—and a remarkable regional divide in education persisted until the interwar period. While previous hypotheses have focused on the role played by fiscal capacity, this paper sheds new light on the effect that enfranchisement had on the growth of schooling. The presence of large regional disparities in local electoral franchise is confirmed by the data; however, the relationship between voting rights, the intensity of local direct taxation and municipal fiscal capacity is weak at best. Furthermore, if the impact of these factors is analysed separately through a number of econometric models, fiscal capacity stands out as the most significant determinant of education across Italy’s provinces. Against recent hypotheses, these results show that the different distribution of political voice within Italy’s municipalities did not determine the persistence of regional inequalities in schooling in the long run: it was Italy’s national education system, together with remarkable and pre-existent regional disparities, that slowed down the development of human capital in rural and southern regions, with immense costs in terms of future prospects for economic growth and human development.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriele Cappelli, 2016. "One size that didn’t fit all? Electoral franchise, fiscal capacity and the rise of mass schooling across Italy’s provinces, 1870–1911," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 10(3), pages 311-343, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:cliomt:v:10:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s11698-015-0133-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s11698-015-0133-2
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    Cited by:

    1. Ralph Hippe & Maciej Jakubowski & Luisa De Sousa Lobo Borges de Araujo, 2018. "Regional inequalities in PISA: the case of Italy and Spain," JRC Working Papers JRC109057, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    2. Paola Azar Dufrechou, 2018. "Electoral politics and the diffusion of primary schooling: evidence from Uruguay, 1914-1954," Working Papers wpdea1801, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
    3. Gabriele Cappelli & Emanuele Felice & Julio Martínez-Galarraga & Daniel Tirado, 2018. "Still a long way to go: decomposing income inequality across Italy’s regions, 1871 – 2011," Working Papers 0123, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Schooling; Electoral franchise; Fiscal capacity; Italy;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O23 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Fiscal and Monetary Policy in Development

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