The origins of the Italian regional divide: Evidence from real wages, 1861-1913

Giovanni Federico, Alessandro Nuvolari, Michelangelo Vasta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The origins of the Italian North-South divide have always been controversial. We fill this gap by estimating a new dataset of real wages (Allen 2001; Allen et al. 2011) from Unification (1861) to WWI. Italy was very poor throughout the period, with a modest improvement since the late nineteenth century. This improvement started in the Northwest industrializing regions, while real wages in other macro-areas remained stagnant. The gap Northwest/South widened until the end of the period. Focusing on the drivers of regional trends, we find that human capital formation exerted strong positive effect on the growth of real wages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-98
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Economic History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)

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