The economic consequences of population and urbanization growth in Italy: from the 13th century to 1900. A discussion on the Malthusian dynamics
In this paper we investigate the quantitative relation between population, real wages and urbanization in the Italian economy during the period 1320-1870. In this period the prevailing conditions were those of a poor, mainly agricultural economy with limited human capital and rudimentary technology. However, these centuries witnessed the considerable growth of urban centers, which was not only a significant demographic phenomenon in itself. The multiplication of such agglomerations had a striking influence on mortality and hence on the general course of the economy in this period. We present two main results i) the positive check is strong and statistically significant and it explains an important part of the dynamic of mortality but the other equilibrating mechanism in the Malthusian model -the preventive check- based on the positive relationship between fertility and real wages does not operate; ii) the urbanization process and the flows of rural immigrants which fuelled it, had profound, complex implications on productivity in agriculture and on wages and population dynamics.
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