Emanuele Felice

Southern Italy between History and Popular Literature. A Reply to Daniele and Malanima

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The article responds to Daniele and Malanima's harsh criticism ("Perché il Sud è rimasto indietro? Il Mezzogiorno fra storia e pubblicistica", Ri vista di Storia Economica, 2014, n. 1) of my last book (Perché il Sud è rimasto indietro, il Mulino, 2013), about the reconstruction of regional disparities in Italy and the causes of the Italian North-South divide. For what concerns the estimates of regional GDP, it is shown that: my estimation procedure for 1871 was transparent; the interpolation procedure presented by Daniele and Malanima is not replicable, and its results look ambiguous; the procedure through which Daniele and Malanima claim to have converted regional estimates from historical to current borders is incompatible with their own results; nowadays, a new and more accurate estimate at current borders is available. Concerning the re-interpretation of the North-South divide, I find that Daniele and Malanima present my work in an unfair way, which leads them to a number of interpretative errors (as in reading the econometric results) and to specious controversies; furthermore, the two authors do not consider important or recent findings of the historical research (while at the same time supporting a historically unreliable popular literature on Southern Italy) and refer to economic models in a way that is not always correct, neither accurate. They also champion a view of history which looks to me short-sighted and contradictory.

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