Research Seminar

The political economy of the Italian Railway Expansion, 1879-1890 — Giovanni Facchini

15 Dec 2020


Giovanni Facchini (University of Nottingham)


This paper studies the role played by politics in shaping of the Italian railway network, and its impact on long-run growth patterns. Examining a large state-planned railway expansion that took place during the second half of the 19th century in a recently unified country, we first study how both national and local political processes shaped the planned railway construction. Exploiting close elections, we show that a state-funded railway line is more likely to be planned for construction where the local representative is aligned with the government. Furthermore, our analysis indicates that the actual path followed by the railways was shaped by local pork-barrelling, with towns supporting elected candidates more likely to see a railway crossing their territory. Finally, we explore the long-run effects of the network on economic development. Employing population censuses for the entire 20th century, we show that politics at a critical juncture played a key role in explaining the long-run evolution of local economies.


Roberto Bonfatti (University of Padova and University of Nottingham) — Giovanni Facchini (University of Nottingham) — Gian Luca Tedeschi (University of Padova and University of Nottingham) — Cecilia Testa (University of Nottingham) — Alex Tarasov (HSE University, Moscow)


Virtuall via Gotomeeting
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