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Regional income inequality in Italy in the long run (1871–2001). Patterns and determinants

  • Emanuele Felice

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

The chapter presents up-to-date estimates of Italy’s regional GDP, with the present borders, in ten-year benchmarks from 1871 to 2001, and proposes a new interpretative hypothesis based on long-lasting socio-institutional differences. The inverted U-shape of income inequality is confirmed: rising divergence until the midtwentieth century, then convergence. However, the latter was limited to the centrenorth: Italy was divided into three parts by the time regional inequality peaked, in 1951, and appears to have been split into two halves by 2001. As a consequence of the falling back of the south, from 1871 to 2001 we record s-divergence across Italy’s regions, i.e. an increase in dispersion, and sluggish ß-convergence. Geographical factors and the market size played a minor role: against them are both the evidence that most of the differences in GDP are due to employment rather than to productivity and the observed GDP patterns of many regions. The gradual converging of regional GDPs towards two equilibria instead follows social and institutional differences - in the political and economic institutions and in the levels of human and social capital - which originated in pre-unification states and did not die (but in part even increased) in postunification Italy.

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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 2013_08.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aub:uhewps:2013_08
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