The Development of Cities in Italy 1300 – 1861
The evolution of city growth is usually studied for relatively short time periods. The rise and decline of cities is, however, typically a process that takes many decades or even centuries. In this paper we study the evolution of Italian cities over the period 1300-1861. The first contribution of our paper is that we use various descriptive statistics on individual city sizes and the city-size distribution as a whole to highlight the main characteristics of Italy’s urban system such as the differences between northern and southern Italy. Our second, and main, contribution is that our data allow for panel estimation where city-size is regressed on various geographical, political and other determinants of city size for the period 1300-1861. We show that, although large shocks such as the plague epidemics are clearly visible in the data, the main determinants of Italy’s city growth invariably are physical geography and political predominance. Also the North-South difference turns out to be important.
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