Land Inequality and Agriculture in Interwar Italy
Title: Land Inequality and Agriculture in Interwar Italy
Author: MARTINELLI LASHERAS, Pablo
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2012
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
This thesis presents a re-interpretation of the role played by latifundia in Italian economic history based on a new theory of the effects of land inequality, namely that high landownership concentration leads to market power in rural factor markets in the presence of restrictions to factor mobility. According to such a view, market power had basically distributive effects and did not imply any technical inefficiency in agricultural production. Thus, while severely distorting factor returns in latifundia areas, land inequality is unlikely to have caused Southern backwardness, at least from a static point of view. The model is fully confirmed by a new database on land inequality, output and factor prices encompassing all local labour markets of Italy at the end of the 1930s. From a technical (TFP) point of view, indeed, Southern agriculture in interwar years cannot be considered more inefficient than the Northern one, which used much higher quantities of both capital and labour per hectare. Thus, at the present stage of the research, a factor-lead accumulation process seems to be a better candidate for the North-South agricultural divergence that happened during the first half of the twentieth century. A mechanism in the spirit of Von Thünen linking output and input intensity, as well as rents, to access to markets fully accounts for such a process and is strongly confirmed by the spatial patterns of Italian agriculture around 1930.
Defence date: 5 October 2012; Examining Board: Professor Giovanni Federico (EUI) - Supervisor; Professor Bartolomé Yun-Casalilla (EUI); Professor Juan Carmona Pidal (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid); Professor Nikolaus Wolf (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).
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