Urbanization and Growth: Why Did the Splendor of the Italian Cities in the Sixteenth Century Not Lead to Transition?

46 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2014

See all articles by Bruno Chiarini

Bruno Chiarini

University of Naples, Parthenope

Elisabetta Marzano

University of Naples Parthenope - Department of Economic Studies (DES)

Date Written: October 24, 2014

Abstract

In this paper we investigate the relation between population, wages and urban population in the Italian economy. During the period examined, 1320-1870, 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, a significant demographic phenomenon with major economic consequences. Against this background we set up a theoretical scheme to explain why urbanization did not drive the economy to sustained growth. Our main contribution, validated by an estimated VAR model, suggests that in an early stage of development, migration to cities may have negative consequences for rural marginal productivity. The analysis provides a picture of a trapped economy where urbanization was unable to trigger a persistent process of development without the support of a substantial increase in population.

Keywords: urbanization, Malthusian dynamics, pre-industrial labor productivity, population trend, demographic changes, agricultural wages

JEL Classification: N330, N530, N930, J110, C320

Suggested Citation

Chiarini, Bruno and Marzano, Elisabetta, Urbanization and Growth: Why Did the Splendor of the Italian Cities in the Sixteenth Century Not Lead to Transition? (October 24, 2014). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5038. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2519435

Bruno Chiarini

University of Naples, Parthenope ( email )

Via Generale Parisi 13
Napoli, 80133
Italy

Elisabetta Marzano (Contact Author)

University of Naples Parthenope - Department of Economic Studies (DES) ( email )

via Medina 40
Naples, 80133
Italy

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