Administrative Reforms and Urban Development: Lessons from Italian Unification

Cainelli GiulioCiccarelli CarloGanau Roberto
CEIS Research Paper
We study how changes in the political-administrative hierarchy of a country affect urban development. We exploit the 1865 administrative reform occurred in the aftermath of Italian unification as a quasi-natural experiment to assess whether district’s capital cities endowed with supra-municipal administrative functions by law gained a population growth premium compared to similar non-capital cities in the period 1871-1921. We rely on difference-in-differences and event study estimation strategies, and find that district’s capital cities recorded a time-persistent population growth premium. Three main mechanisms explain our results: increases in public employment; increases in manufacturing employment; and development of the infrastructure endowment.

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Number: 538
Keywords: Administrative reforms; political-administrative hierarchy; urban development; Italian unification.
JEL codes: H11, N13, O11, R11
Volume: 20
Issue: 3
Date: Saturday, April 2, 2022
Revision Date: Saturday, April 2, 2022