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

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  • Pascali, Luigi

Abstract

Are di§erences in local banking development long-lasting? Do they a§ect long-term economic performance? I answer these questions 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: Örst, the Jews were the only people in Italy who were allowed to lend for a proÖt and, second, the Franciscan reaction to Jewish usury led to the creation of charity lending institutions, the Monti di Piet‡, that have survived until today and have become the basis of the Italian banking system. Using Jewish demography in 1500 as an instrument, I provide evidence of (1) an extraordinary persistence in the level of banking development across Italian cities (2) large e§ects of current local banking development on per-capita income. Additional Örm-level analyses suggest that well-functioning local banks exert large e§ects on aggregate productivity by reallocating resources toward more e¢ cient Örms. I exploit the expulsion of the Jews from the Spanish territories in Italy in 1541 to argue that my results are not driven by omitted institutional, cultural and geographical characteristics. In particular, I show that, in Central Italy, the di§erence 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Pascali, Luigi, 2013. "Banks and Development: Jewish Communities in the Italian Renaissance and Current Economic Performance," Economic Research Papers 270433, University of Warwick - Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uwarer:270433
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.270433
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Financial Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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