Urbanisation and Agricultural Productivity: Why Did the Splendour of the Italian Cities in the Sixteenth Century Not Lead to Transition?

26 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2019

See all articles by Bruno Chiarini

Bruno Chiarini

University of Naples, Parthenope

Elisabetta Marzano

University of Naples Parthenope - Department of Economic Studies (DES)

Date Written: February 2019

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the relationships among total population, wages and the urban population in the Italian economy during the period 1320‐1870. From the late Middle Ages to the Early Modern age (the Italian Renaissance), the prevailing conditions were those of a poor, mainly agricultural economy with rudimentary technology. However, these centuries witnessed considerable growth of urban centres. The question that drives this paper is why the development of Italian cities in the sixteenth century did not lead to sustained growth. Using a vector autoregression (VAR) model, we provide a picture of a trapped economy in which urbanisation was unable to trigger a persistent process of development because migration to cities had negative consequences for rural marginal productivity. The demand for a young and healthy labour force from the urban sector was not adequately supported by the productivity of the agricultural sector, which suffered from a lack of technological innovation.

Suggested Citation

Chiarini, Bruno and Marzano, Elisabetta, Urbanisation and Agricultural Productivity: Why Did the Splendour of the Italian Cities in the Sixteenth Century Not Lead to Transition? (February 2019). Kyklos, Vol. 72, Issue 1, pp. 3-28, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3318503 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/kykl.12192

Bruno Chiarini (Contact Author)

University of Naples, Parthenope ( email )

Via Generale Parisi 13
Napoli, 80133
Italy

Elisabetta Marzano

University of Naples Parthenope - Department of Economic Studies (DES) ( email )

via Medina 40
Naples, 80133
Italy

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