Work in Progress
- Sovereign Polities and Pre-Industrial Development: Theory and Evidence for Europe 1000-1850
(with M. Cervellati, G. Prarolo and P. Vanin)
This paper offers a first attempt of systematic investigation of the drivers of the evolution of sovereign polities in pre-industrial Europe and their role in shaping economic development in the locations under their territorial control. We build a simple theoretical framework that allows to characterise the endogenous change in the sovereign polities, in terms of rule of law and state capacity, and the their equilibrium number and territorial size. The framework tracks, in particular, the (timing and location of) emergence and disappearance of city states and the evolution of medieval domain reigns into modern territorial states. The theory also deliver insights on the role of different polities for changing patterns of political geography including the role of distance to capitals and borders, change of rulers and the emergence of national markets. The predictions are investigated assembling a novel georeferenced database tracking the emergence, territorial evolution and disappearance of all sovereign polities ruling in Europe over the period 1000-1850. By exploiting, within location and within polities, overtime variation in urban population growth, we finally explore the validity of existing arguments and the novel predictions on the role of polities and local political geography. The main patterns are robust to a large set of sensitivity checks.
- Political Institutions, Culture and Cooperation: Medieval Social Contracts and their Legacy
(with P. Buonanno, M. Cervellati and G. Prarolo)
We propose a simple theory of endogenous political institutions, public policies and individual attitudes. We characterize the conditions for emergence and persistence of extractive or productive "social contracts''. The framework, that features multiple equilibria and path dependence, allows to study the interactions between institutions and attitudes (culture) and the mechanisms of (lack of) persistence of the social contracts. Constraints on the executives are necessary (but not sufficient) conditions for the emergence of productive social contracts but are not necessary for the persistence of these equilibria. Several insights are explored building a new panel database that tracks the emergence, territorial evolution and disappearance of the communal and maritime republics in medieval Italy. We collect yearly information for the period 1000-1800 to build measures of historical political stability, intensity of exposure to different polities (over time and space) and information on forceful annexation of territory to the sovereign polities. Proxies for medieval constraints on the executive are built collecting information on the turnover of medieval power holders (e.g. information on names and families of "podesta'"). The data are used to explore the legacy of medieval social contracts on fiscal compliance and its interactions with public policies and other civic attitudes at municipality level today.
- Deep Determinants of Preferences over Political Institutions: Monarchy vs. Republic in 1946 Italy
(with P. Buonanno, M. Cervellati and G. Prarolo)A growing literature studies the working of democratic institutions and their emergence. Little is known on preferences over political institutions in the population at large and on their historical drivers. We investigate the empirical determinants of the votes in the Referendum over Monarchy vs Republic held, for the first time in universal franchise, at the end of WWI in 1946 in Italy. We construct a large disaggregate database to study the determinants of the votes for about 8100 municipalities in Italy. A main variable of interest is the exposure to the rule of more or less republican and monarchic sovereign polities in medieval times. We track the emergence, evolution and territorial disappearance of the sovereign polities in pre-industrial times. We build a time varying political score for the Italian peninsula that offers a proxy of the actual exposure to the rule of republics and monarchies in each location and each year over the period 1000-1861. The data allows a first measurement of past exposure to different political institutions and an exploration of their (cultural) legacy for preferences over Republic and Monarchy during the transition to democracy. The empirical analysis also accounts for economic conflicts of interests (in terms of historical land inequality), socio-economic conditions and for the role of short term contingencies (like fascist-nazi massacres and occupations along the nazi defensive lines during WWII).
- Cultural Colonization and the Demand for Populism: Evidence from Argentina.
Despite the fall of Mussolini's populist and fascist regime in Italy during World War II, in 1946 the Argentine population elected Juan Domingo Peron, a former army general and a politician with a corporatist, authoritarian and populist ideology. This paper investigates the relationship between the Italian mass migration to Argentina during the period 1880-1950 and affiliation of Argentinian members of parliament (MPs) to the Peronist (populist) party from 1946 onwards. The working hypothesis is that the populist (fascist) ideology of Mussolini propagated in Argentina exploiting the sentiment of Italian identity abroad and lead to a rise of the demand for populist representatives and leaders in the host country. To assess the link between Italian roots and Peronism I collect data on Argentinian MPs and match their surnames with a novel database tracking more than 1 million Italian migrants to Argentina. I find that having Italian origins is associated with 3\% higher probability to be a Peronist MP. Interestingly, this relationship is hump-shaped with respect to the period in which the relatives of the MPs migrated the most, with a peak in the period 1919-1924 (the rise of Mussolini to power) but rapidly declining when Mussolini was in power. To investigate the mechanism underlying this finding I exploit machine learning techniques and the distribution of surnames in Italian municipalities to infer the migrants' province of origin and study the role of historical experiences of medieval republican governance, fascist propaganda, and shocks such as earthquakes.