hero working papers

Plague and long-term development: the lasting effects of the 1629-30 epidemic on the Italian cities

Number: 508
Year: 2014
Author(s): Guido Alfani and Marco Percoco
The paper aims to analyze the effects of plague on the long-term development of Italian cities, with particular attention to the 1629-30 epidemic. By using a new dataset on plague mortality rates in 49 cities covering the period 1575-1700 ca., an economic geography model verifying the existence of multiple equilibria is estimated. It is found that cities affected only by the 1629-30 plague recovered in the short run, whereas cities affected by both the 1575-77 and 1629-30 epidemic show persistent decline in the long run. This new finding contrasts with previous literature and is hence interpreted in the light of the new concept of "urban frailty".

Keywords: Plague, Italian cities, Urban development, Urban demography, Multiple