Plague and Long‐Term Development: The Lasting Effects of the 1629–30 Epidemic on the Italian Cities

27 Pages Posted: 17 May 2020

See all articles by Guido Alfani

Guido Alfani

Bocconi University - Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management

Marco Percoco

Bocconi University - Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management

Date Written: November 2019

Abstract

This article aims to analyse the effects of plague on the long‐term development of Italian cities, with particular attention to the 1629–30 epidemic. By using a new dataset on plague mortality rates in 56 cities covering the period c. 1575–1700, an economic geography model verifying the existence of multiple equilibria is estimated. It is found that cities severely affected by the 1629–30 plague were displaced to a lower growth path. It is also found that plague caused long‐lasting damage to the size of Italian urban populations and to urbanization rates. These findings support the hypothesis that seventeenth‐century plagues played a fundamental role in triggering the process of relative decline of the Italian economies.

Suggested Citation

Alfani, Guido and Percoco, Marco, Plague and Long‐Term Development: The Lasting Effects of the 1629–30 Epidemic on the Italian Cities (November 2019). The Economic History Review, Vol. 72, Issue 4, pp. 1175-1201, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3598405 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12652

Guido Alfani (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

Marco Percoco

Bocconi University - Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

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