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Cognition, Culture, and State Capacity: Age-Heaping in XIX Century Italy

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  • A'Hearn, Brian
  • Delfino, Alexia
  • Nuvolari, Alessandro

Abstract

We re-examine the causes and interpretation of age-heaping in a case study of nineteenth century Italy. Italian census data allow us to calculate age-heaping measures by province, education, gender, and marital status. Our results validate the use of age-heaping as a proxy for human capital, but also reveal anomalies difficult to reconcile with a pure numeracy interpretation. Alongside individual cognitive ability, the census data clearly suggest a role for contextual factors in shaping age-heaping patterns. Direct evidence from Italian social and political history buttresses the case for culture and state capacity as determinants of age-heaping. Age-heaping and illiteracy are well correlated because both are reflections of an underlying process of modernisation, a process which, in nineteenth century Italy, was slow and incomplete.

Suggested Citation

  • A'Hearn, Brian & Delfino, Alexia & Nuvolari, Alessandro, 2019. "Cognition, Culture, and State Capacity: Age-Heaping in XIX Century Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 14261, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:14261
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Age-Heaping; Human Capital; Italy; Numeracy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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