Socio-Cultural Variables and Economic Success: Evidence from Italian Provinces 1951-1991
Giovanni Peri, 2004.
Italy makes for an interesting case-study of the impact of socio-cultural variables on economic performance: under a common institutional framework differences in socio-cultural attitudes across Italian provinces correspond to large differences in their economic success. We analyze the effects of social variables on long-run provincial economic performance during Italy's era of economic take-off (1951-1991). Since socio-cultural traits in Italy are deeply rooted in local history and traditions, we argue that their persistence produces an (at least partly) exogenous determinant of economic prosperity. While we find rather weak evidence that civic involvement (Social Capital as defined in Putnam, 1993) fosters economic success, we do find strong evidence that the presence of organized crime (proxied by murder rates at the beginning of the period) is associated with low economic development, even after controlling for other economic and geographic factors.