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Democratization and Civic Capital

  • Guiso, Luigi
  • Pinotti, Paolo

We document a sharp reversal in electoral participation between the North and the South of Italy after the 1912 enfranchisement which extended voting rights from a limited élite to (almost) all adult males. When voting was restricted to the élite, electoral turnout was higher in the South but falls significantly below that in the North after the enfranchisement. Furthermore the new gap is never bridged over the following century and participation remains lower in the South despite the enrichment of democratic institutions and further extension of voting rights to the female population during the post war democratic republic. This pattern in the data is consistent with a simple model where individuals’ voting in political elections is affected by private benefits and by civic duty, only elites can grab private benefits from participation in politics and civic culture differs across communities. We also find that extension of voting rights to non-elites results in a significant transfer of power to their political organizations only among populations with a high sense of civic duties. Together with the very persistent gap in participation between North and South our findings suggest that democratization – a process of concession of democratic rights – can benefit non-elites only when the latter have already a high sense of civic capital and is unlikely to be a viable avenue for inducing norms of civic behavior.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8847.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8847
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  1. Ferguson, Thomas & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2005. "Betting on Hitler - The Value of Political Connections in Nazi Germany," CEPR Discussion Papers 5021, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Durante, Ruben, 2009. "Risk, Cooperation and the Economic Origins of Social Trust: an Empirical Investigation," MPRA Paper 25887, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Daniel Diermeier & Michael Keane & Antonio Merlo, 2002. "A Political Economy Model of Congressional Careers," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-037, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Sep 2004.
  4. Valentino Larcinese, 2011. "Enfranchisement and Representation: Italy 1909-1913," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 032, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  5. Zak, Paul J & Knack, Stephen, 2001. "Trust and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 295-321, April.
  6. Oliver E. Williamson, 2000. "The New Institutional Economics: Taking Stock, Looking Ahead," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 595-613, September.
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