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Escaping from a human capital trap? Italy’s regions and the move to centralized primary schooling, 1861 - 1936

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  • Gabriele Cappelli

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Abstract

- The present paper explores the role of public policy in the development of Italy’s human capital in the late 19th century and the Interwar period. It aims at understanding whether a system of decentralized primary education slowed down regional convergence in schooling. This work puts forward the hypothesis that, under such a system, the country was subject to a human capital trap – since poor and backward areas could not afford to invest a suitable amount of resources in schooling. Additionally, it investigates whether a more centralized system, introduced in 1911, loosened up the trap, fostered the accumulation of human capital and reduced the country’s regional disparities. Original qualitative evidence and new data on schooling confirm the existence of such a trap, and underline the positive role of centralization in the Interwar period. The econometric model implemented strengthens these findings: poor regions could not improve the quality of education, which in turn would give rise to a vicious circle. Centralized primary education certainly fostered the development of Italy’s schooling in the Interwar period. However, human capital regional disparities across the country persisted, a result that calls for further research on the topic.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriele Cappelli, 2013. "Escaping from a human capital trap? Italy’s regions and the move to centralized primary schooling, 1861 - 1936," Department of Economics University of Siena 688, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  • Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:688
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    File URL: http://repec.deps.unisi.it/quaderni/688.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Giorgio Brosio, 2017. "Equalization transfers and convergence between federal and unitary systems: a contribution to their historical analysis," Working papers 61, Società Italiana di Economia Pubblica.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O20 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - General

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