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A taxonomy of infrastructure financing in Europe on the long run (12th-18th cc.)


  • Giuseppe DE LUCA
  • Marcella LORENZINI


This paper intends to trace the evolution of the financing solutions devised by some European countries to create their infrastructure framework. Starting from some indications on the Roman Age, when the first main public work was constructed, the analysis focuses on the Middle Ages and on the Early Modern Age. The primary goal is to elaborate a taxonomy pointing out the varied and different instruments developed over time to finance consistent works, targeted to provide services and facilities to the highest number of citizens. We concentrate specifically on ‘economic’ infrastructures such as roads, canals, bridges, water and sewer lines. Most of the current historiography has unduly projected the successful financing of todays leading countries onto the past, measuring only the distance of the previous specific financing means from an ideal current pattern. This stance led mostly to fictitious narratives. Highlighting the context-dependent specificities, this research conversely aims to draw a picture of how manifold and interrelated infrastructure financing were in the pre-industrial Europe and how they were highly performative related to their institutional, social and political background. Our preliminary result is that the effectiveness of infrastructure financing ways is strictly correlated to a set of variables that dynamically encompass institutions, political regimes, supply-side and demand-side factors, whose interplay determines a path-dependence.

Suggested Citation

  • Giuseppe DE LUCA & Marcella LORENZINI, 2013. "A taxonomy of infrastructure financing in Europe on the long run (12th-18th cc.)," Departmental Working Papers 2013-03, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  • Handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2013-03

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    Financial History; History of Infrastructure; Pre-industrial Europe;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N23 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N73 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: Pre-1913


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