Law Enforcement and Political Participation: Italy, 1861-65
64 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2017
Date Written: July 19, 2017
Does tougher law enforcement positively affect political participation? This paper addresses this question, which hinges upon the causal impact of formal institutions on informal ones, by using a historical event from 19th century Italy. This event was the Pica Law, which was introduced in 1863 to fight a surge of criminal violence in Southern Italy and to ensure a safer environment for wealthy people, the only ones allowed to vote at that time. Our main finding, obtained using a spatial regression discontinuity technique in a diff-in-diffs framework, is that voter turnout greatly increased in those areas where the Pica Law was applied, compared with bordering and otherwise similar areas. This result is confirmed by a number of robustness checks and placebo exercises and turns out to be persistent over time.
Keywords: Turnout, Electoral Results, Spatial Discontinuity
JEL Classification: D72, R5
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation