Resistance to Institutions and Cultural Distance: Brigandage in Post-Unification Italy
68 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2021
Date Written: April 2021
What determines the rejection of exogenously imposed institutions? To address this question, we exploit the transplantation of institutions that occurred when southern Italy was annexed to Piedmont, during the Italian unification process of the 1860s. We assemble a novel dataset on episodes of brigandage, a form of violent uprising against the unitary government, and on pre-unification social and economic characteristics of southern Italian municipalities. We find that the intensity of institutional rejection is ceteris paribus lower in and close to settlements of Piedmontese origin. We argue that geographical distance from these communities is a proxy for cultural distance from the Piedmontese rulers. Thus, our results suggest that cultural proximity to the ‘donor’ reduces institutional rejection by ‘recipient’ communities in the context of institutional transplantations. We rule out alternative mechanisms proposed by the economic literature, provide suggestive evidence of cultural persistence and diffusion in our context, and discuss two possible culture-based interpretations of our results: a clash between local values and the content of the new institutions, and social identification with the Piedmontese rulers.
Keywords: Institutions, Culture, Institutional Transplantations, Cultural Diffusion
JEL Classification: N43, D74, P16, Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation