Research Institute on Population and Social Policies

July 13th, 2022

Landownership concentration and human capital accumulation in post-unification Italy

It is the title of the article published by Vitantonio Mariella in the June 2022 issue of the magazine Journal of Population Economics published by Springer

"This paper contributes to the debate on institutions and economic development by assessing the relationship between landownership concentration and education. Using historical data at both the district and province levels in post-unification Italy from 1871 to 1921, I find evidence of an adverse effect of land inequality on literacy rates. Instrumental variable estimates using malaria pervasiveness as a source of exogenous variation rule out concerns regarding potential endogeneity. Exploration of the panel dimension of the data reveals that several shocks during this period affected the relationship between land inequality and literacy rates. In addition, this paper provides insights into the mechanism behind this relationship by analyzing the impact on intermediate outputs, such as enrollment rates in primary school, child-teacher ratio, school density, child labor, and municipality expenditures. Land inequality may have adversely affected literacy rates not only by influencing schooling supply through the political process but also through the private demand for education. "