The Electoral Impact of Wealth Redistribution. Evidence from the Italian Land Reform
78 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2019
Date Written: February 15, 2019
We study the political consequences of a major land reform in Italy, which split large estates and transferred land to small owners. Using a panel spatial regression discontinuity design, we show that the reform benefited the incumbent Christian Democrat party. The electoral benefits persist for four decades. We conjecture that the reform generated a cooperative political equilibrium in which voters in treated towns supported the candidates and the agenda of the incumbent party, and the party promoted the interests of these towns. Analysis of fiscal transfers, public sector employment, and referendum voting supports this hypothesis.
Keywords: land reform, redistribution, election, Italy
JEL Classification: P16, Q15, N54, D72
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