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Passive Modernization? The New Human Development Index and Its Components in Italy’s Regions (1871-2007)

  • Emanuele Felice

    (Departament d'Economia i d'Història Econòmica, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

  • Michelangelo Vasta

    (Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Siena)

The article presents and discusses estimates of social and economic indicators for Italy’s regions in benchmark years roughly from Unification to the present day: life expectancy, education, Gdp per capita at purchasing power parity, and the new Human Development Index (HDI). A broad interpretative hypothesis, based on the distinction between passive and active modernization, is proposed to account for the evolution of regional imbalances over the long-run. In the lack of active modernization, Southern Italy converged thanks to passive modernization, i.e., State intervention: however, this was more effective in life expectancy, less successful in education, expensive and as a whole ineffective in Gdp. As a consequence, convergence in the HDI occurred from the late XIX century to the 1970s, but came to a sudden halt in the last decades of the XX century.

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Paper provided by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica in its series UHE Working papers with number 2012_10.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aub:uhewps:2012_10
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  1. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2013. "World Human Development: 1870-2007," CEPR Discussion Papers 9292, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. David Cutler & Angus Deaton & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2006. "The Determinants of Mortality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 97-120, Summer.
  3. Emanuele Felice, 2012. "Regional convergence in Italy, 1891–2001: testing human and social capital," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 6(3), pages 267-306, October.
  4. Margo, Robert A. & Steckel, Richard H., 1983. "Heights of Native-Born Whites During the Antebellum Period," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(01), pages 167-174, March.
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  6. Amendola, Nicola & Vecchi, Giovanni & Al Kiswani, Bilal, 2010. "Il costo della vita al Nord e al Sud d'Italia dal dopoguerra a oggi. Stime di prima generazione," MPRA Paper 23486, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Zachary Gidwitz & Martin Philipp Heger & José Pineda & Francisco Rodríguez, 2010. "Understanding Performance in Human Development: A Cross-National Study," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2010-42, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  8. Emanuele Felice & Giovanni Vecchi, 2012. "Italy’s Modern Economic Growth, 1861-2011," Department of Economics University of Siena 663, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  9. Allen, Robert C., 2011. "Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199596652, March.
  10. Daron Acemoglu, 2007. "Oligarchic Versus Democratic Societies," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 47, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  11. Andrea Brandolini & Giovanni Vecchi, 2011. "The Well-Being of Italians: A Comparative Historical Approach," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 19, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  12. Leandro Conte & Giuseppe Della Torre & Michelangelo Vasta, 2007. "The Human Development Index in Historical Perspective: Italy from Political Unification to the Present Day," Department of Economics University of Siena 491, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  13. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2010. "Improving Human Development: A Long-run View," CEPR Discussion Papers 7982, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Vittorio Daniele & Paolo Malanima, 2007. "Il prodotto delle regioni e il divario Nord-Sud in Italia (1861-2004)," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 97(2), pages 267-316, March-Apr.
  15. Emanuele Felice, 2011. "Regional value added in Italy, 1891–2001, and the foundation of a long‐term picture," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(3), pages 929-950, 08.
  16. Alessandro Nuvolari & Michelangelo Vasta, 2012. "The Ghost in the Attic? The Italian National Innovation System in Historical Perspective, 1861-2011," Department of Economics University of Siena 665, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  17. Komlos, John, 1998. "Shrinking in a Growing Economy? The Mystery of Physical Stature during the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 779-802, September.
  18. Emanuele Felice, 2007. "I divari regionali in Italia sulla base degli indicatori sociali (1871-2001)," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 97(2), pages 359-406, March-Apr.
  19. Crafts, N. F. R., 1997. "The Human Development Index and changes in standards of living: Some historical comparisons," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(03), pages 299-322, December.
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