Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Internal Borders and Population Geography in the Unification of Italy

Author(s): Brian A'Hearn and Valeria Rueda

Publication Date: April 2020

Keyword(s): 19th century, Border effects, economic history, economic integration, Italy, Political Unification and spatial inequality

Programme Area(s): Economic History

Abstract: We examine the economic impact of Italian unification from a micro-geographical perspective, asking whether the abolition of internal borders caused a redistribution of economic activity towards the former border zones, which now enjoyed improved market access. We construct a new geocoded dataset of municipal (comune) populations from the pre-unification period through to 1871. Using a difference-in-differences approach and controlling for a variety of geographic correlates including elevation and distances to ports, railway lines, and large cities, we find robust evidence of a relative acceleration in population growth - our proxy for economic activity - in comuni near the former internal borders, consistent with our market access hypothesis.

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Bibliographic Reference

A'Hearn, B and Rueda, V. 2020. 'Internal Borders and Population Geography in the Unification of Italy'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.