Nov 25, 2013

The Behavioral Foundations of the Italian North-South Divide

From an interesting paper by Maria Bigoni, Stefania Bortolotti, Marco Casari, Diego Gambetta and Francesca Panocha. 2013. 
Abstract
Socio-economic performance differs not only across countries but within countries too and can persist even after religion, language, and formal institutions are long shared. One interpretation of these disparities is that successful regions are characterized by higher levels of trust, and, more generally, of cooperation. Here we study a classic case of within-country disparities, the Italian North-South divide, to find out whether people exhibit geographically distinct abilities to cooperate independently of many other factors and whence these differences emerge. Through an experiment in four Italian cities, we study the behavior of a sample of the general population toward trust and contributions to the common good. We find that trust and contributions vary in unison, and diminish moving from North to South.
From the conclusions 
We collected a millennium-long time span dataset, which suggests that the most plausible conjecture in terms of historical experiences is related to the frequency of violent conflicts against external enemies Bowles (2009); Tilly (1992). The need to react to external threats may positively select norms of conditional cooperation in a society, and lay the bases for a more cooperative future.  
The title of the paper is "Cooperation Hidden Frontiers: The Behavioral Foundations of the Italian North-South Divide." EUI Working Paper ECO 2013/04. European University Press.
The graphs and tables are very interesting.
HT: Matthew Baker

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