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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 profit; 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 firm-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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  • Luigi Pascali, 2012. "Banks and Development: Jewish Communities in the Italian Renaissance and Current Economic Performance," Working Papers 562, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:562
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Becker, Sascha O. & Pascali, Luigi, 2016. "Religion, Division of Labor and Conflict: Anti-Semitism in German Regions over 600 Years," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 288, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    3. Mevlude Akbulut-Yuksel & Mutlu Yuksel, 2015. "The Long-Term Direct and External Effects of Jewish Expulsions in Nazi Germany," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 58-85, August.
    4. Remi Jedwab & Mark Koyama & Noel Johnson, "undated". "Negative Shocks and Mass Persecutions: Evidence from the Black Death," Working Papers 2017-4, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    5. Grosfeld, Irena & Sakalli, Seyhun Orcan & Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, 2017. "Middleman Minorities and Ethnic Violence: Anti-Jewish Pogroms in the Russian Empire," CEPR Discussion Papers 12154, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. 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).
    7. Giampaolo Lecce & Laura Ogliari & Tommaso Orlando, 2017. "Resistance to Institutions and Cultural Distance: Brigandage in Post-Unification Italy," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2097, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    8. Francesco D’Acunto & Marcel Prokopczuk & Michael Weber, 2017. "Historical Antisemitism, Ethnic Specialization, and Financial Development," NBER Working Papers 23785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. 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.
    10. Lehmann-Hasemeyer, Sibylle H. & Wahl, Fabian, 2017. "Savings banks and the industrial revolution in Prussia: Supporting regional development with public financial institutions," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 18-2017, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
    11. Irena Grosfeld & Alexander Rodnyansky & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2010. "Persistent anti-market culture: A legacy of the Pale of Settlement and of the Holocaust," Working Papers halshs-00564927, HAL.
    12. Pere Arqué-castells & Elisabet Viladecans-Marsal, 2016. "Banking the unbanked: Evidence from the Spanish Banking Expansion Plan," Working Papers 2016/24, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    banks; Economic development; persistence; Jewish demography;

    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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