The Economic Consequences of Population Growth in Italy: From the 13th Century to 1900: A Discussion on the Mathusian Dynamics
29 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2007
Date Written: October 2007
In this paper we investigate the relation between population, real wages and urbanization in the Italian economy during the period 1320-1870. In this period the prevailing conditions were those of a poor, mainly agricultural economy with limited human capital and rudimentary technology. However, these centuries witnessed the considerable growth of urban centers, which was not only a significant demographic phenomenon in itself. The multiplication of such agglomerations had a striking influence on mortality and hence on the general course of the economy in this period. Disease, warfare and famine, which for about 400 years had been the greatest "agents" of demographic dynamics, were the real engine of this economy. One of the main results of this paper is that this "engine", along with the urbanization process and the flows of rural immigrants which fuelled it, had profound, complex implications on productivity in agriculture and on wages and population dynamics.
Keywords: Malthusian dynamics, urbanization, pre-industrial labor productivity, population trend, demographic changes
JEL Classification: N33, N53, N93, J11, C32
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