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Internal Borders and Population Geography in the Unification of Italy

A'Hearn, Brian; Rueda, Valeria

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Brian A'Hearn


We offer new evidence on the spatial economic impact of Italian unification. Adopting municipal population as a proxy for local economic activity, we construct a new geocoded dataset spanning the pre- and post-unification periods and discover robust evidence of an acceleration in growth near the former borders. A disproportionate improvement in market access boosted growth in these locations when barriers to trade were dismantled. Indirectly, unification's decisive contribution to intraregional market integration, local specialization and exchange, and economic development is revealed.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 22, 2022
Online Publication Date Aug 31, 2023
Publication Date Sep 1, 2023
Deposit Date Apr 29, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 5, 2022
Journal Journal of Economic History
Print ISSN 0022-0507
Electronic ISSN 1471-6372
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 83
Issue 3
Pages 747-785
Keywords Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous); Economics and Econometrics; History
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Additional Information © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Economic History Association. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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